As many as 15,000 Bitcoin users crammed into Mana Wynwood Convention Center on Friday to attend what was billed as the world’s largest-ever cryptocurrency conference.
In front of a crowd that local fire marshals had to limit because it exceeded capacity, conference headliner Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and payments platform Square, made the bullish case for the cryptocurrency. He said Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, is the world’s best tool for achieving financial freedom and fighting government censorship.
“We don’t need the financial institutions that we have today,” Dorsey said. “We have one that is thriving ... that is owned by the community.”
Bitcoin, he said, “changes absolutely everything...If I weren’t working for Twitter or Square, I’d be working on Bitcoin,” he added.
Other speakers included Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, known for having claimed to have helped found Facebook and now crypto entrepreneurs. They argued Bitcoin’s market capitalization will soon match that of gold — and that by the end of 2022, the price of one Bitcoin could reach $250,000.
“It’s the second pitch of the first inning in terms of where Bitcoin is today,” Tyler Winklevoss said.
The price of one Bitcoin stands at approximately $37,000, down from its recent high of more than $60,000.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez opened the conference, saying he has been working to make Miami the “Bitcoin, blockchain and mining capital of the world.”
The conference brought attendees from as far away as China. Nathaniel Justin Yu, an international marketing executive at China-based crypto-mining firm Bitmain, said attending the conference was a great way to meet others in the space and to broadcast his company’s products. Bitmain is privately owned.
The rise of Miami, he said, “marks a great stride towards the further adoption of cryptocurrency.”
The conference, and announcements this week by two different cryptocurrency exchanges that they would be opening Miami offices, are likely to cement Miami’s status as a crypto hub. Adam Levine, a managing editor at Coindesk.com, a website that covers cryptocurrency, said Suarez deserves a majority of the credit for Miami’s tech- and crypto-related news of the past six months.
“The mayor of Miami being so supportive isn’t unique, but it’s still very novel, and I’d credit a decent amount of the wins Miami has been seeing along these lines to that inviting, supportive approach,” Levine said in an email.
Though some experts say the mainstream promise of Bitcoin and blockchain technologies remains out of reach, Levine said that is changing fast — and that Miami stands to benefit.
“There is definitely a risk of a boom/bust cycle, but that’s true of any new industry,” he said. “People get too excited and can make poor choices, prices pump, people fear missing out, scammers take advantage of that fear to ply their trade using whatever is popular as a facade.
“So like everything it’s a mixed bag, but I think it’s more positive for Miami than it is potentially negative.”
In fact, Miami’s current trajectory puts it on a path to supplant New York and San Francisco as the primary crypto hub in the U.S., Levine said.
“It’s sort of Miami’s game to lose right now,” he said.