Vertiv Introduces New Single-Phase Uninterruptible Power Supply for Distributed Information Technology (IT) Networks and Edge Computing Applications in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)Read more Students from JA Zimbabwe Win 2023 De La Vega Global Entrepreneurship AwardRead more Top International Prospects to Travel to Salt Lake City for Seventh Annual Basketball Without Borders Global CampRead more Rise of the Robots as Saudi Arabia Underscores Global Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Aspirations with DeepFest Debut at LEAP23Read more Somalia: ‘I sold the last three goats, they were likely to die’Read more Merck Foundation and African First Ladies marking World Cancer Day 2023 through 110 scholarships of Oncology Fellowships in 25 countriesRead more Supporting women leaders and aspirants to unleash their potentialRead more Fake medicines kill almost 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans a year: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reportRead more Climate crisis and migration: Greta Thunberg supports International Organization for Migration (IOM) over ‘life and death’ issueRead more United Nations (UN) Convenes Lake Chad Countries, Amid Growing Regional CrisisRead more

Miami, looking to be next crypto hotspot, hosts huge bitcoin event

show caption
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder and CEO of Square, was one of the keynote speakers at Bitcoin 2021, a massive trade show in Miami, which hopes to be the next cryptocurrency hub./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Jun 07, 2021 - 07:42 AM

MIAMI — Thousands of people have descended on Miami for a massive two-day bitcoin conference that opened Friday — a sign that the US city, in the midst of a tech boom, is hoping to become the next cryptocurrency hub.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on” than bitcoin, given the flexibility it offers, billionaire entrepreneur Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and payments firm Square, told a crowded auditorium.

“We don’t need the financial institutions that we have today. We have one that is thriving, that is sound, that is owned by the community, that is driven by the community,” said Dorsey, one of the keynote speakers at Bitcoin 2021.

Dorsey tweeted Friday that Square was considering making a hardware wallet for safely storing bitcoin.

With 12,000 participants and all speaker sessions sold out, the Bitcoin 2021 trade show features exhibits from crypto mining companies, crypto traders and bitcoin exchange networks.

The conference was originally scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, but was moved due to tougher coronavirus restrictions in California.

The line to get into the Mana Convention Center in Miami’s trendy Wynwood neighborhood wrapped around the building. Everyone was in high spirits and there were no face masks to be seen.

Beyond Dorsey, two of the other speakers were Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, twin Harvard classmates of Mark Zuckerberg who sued him over claims he stole the idea for Facebook from them, and now run cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.

“We think bitcoin is gold 2.0,” Tyler said at a panel discussion. “When we get to Mars, what is the currency going to be in Mars? Dollars? No. Bitcoin.”

‘A movement’ 

So where does Miami fit into the picture?

For David Abner, Gemini’s global head of business development, Miami is “centrally located, especially in the Americas, and there’s a lot of political support here.”

“I think they’ve spent time to understand it and think about the ramifications of bitcoin. And so they’re very supportive of the economy,” Abner told AFP, adding that cryptocurrency could revolutionize remittances sent back to Latin America.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who opened Bitcoin 2021, has become a bit of a celebrity in tech circles, for his intense efforts to turn the Magic City into a beachfront Silicon Valley.

In February, the Republican mayor announced that the city would explore ways to do some of its financial transactions using cryptocurrency, including paying salaries to employees.

Earlier this week, venture capital firm Borderless Capital announced it was moving its headquarters from Atlanta to Miami and launching a new $25 million fund for local startups using blockchain technology.

And the mayor announced the launch of MiamiCoin, a Miami-specific cryptocurrency that will allow investors to boost the city’s coffers while making money themselves.

“This is not a moment. This is a movement,” Suarez said Friday.

‘A bit wary’ 

Since late last year, Miami has been attracting techies away from Silicon Valley and New York for a variety of reasons — thanks to Florida’s lack of state taxes and relatively lax coronavirus precautions, along with the city’s multicultural work force and proximity to Latin America.

It’s not exactly clear how many have moved, but there are signs of growth  — home prices are soaring, up nearly 35 percent in just a year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

But not everyone is happy. The Miami Herald warned in an editorial of the possible pitfalls of the city’s embrace of all things crypto.

“Don’t get us wrong. We hope cryptocurrency — and the flashing neon welcome mat we’ve set out for the tech industry — elevate this city to new prosperity,” the paper said.

“Just don’t blame us for being a bit wary,” it said. “Because Miami has history, folks. We’ve been a smugglers’ paradise, the epicenter of the cocaine trade, a mecca for money laundering, ground zero for mortgage fraud…”

“We worry about going through another boom-and-bust cycle or a wave that crashes and takes us all down with it. If we’re staking the city’s future on this, please, let’s not repeat the past.”

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.