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Event review: BTC Miami lives up to reputation

BTC Miami’s reputation as a mandatory “must-attend” event is well deserved and well earned.

Often lauded as the largest, best-attended and, arguably longest-running conference in blockchain, the North American Bitcoin Conference (a.k.a. BTC Miami) was held in downtown Miami’s James L. Knight Center January 16 through 18, 2019. Though times are significantly different since last year’s conference when cryptocurrency prices seemed to double daily, the conference was well attended and the crowd enthusiastic. An impressive lineup of keynote speakers did not disappoint covering topics that ranged across the blockchain spectrum.  

Despite this year’s comparatively smaller turnout, the enthusiasm was evident entering the exhibition area, where multiple presenters eager to discuss their respective projects greeted attendees. Though modest, the display booths were well organized and projected a welcoming atmosphere. The presentation hall filled quickly, providing an initial opportunity for networking before attendees settled in to focus on the speakers. 

The first day’s keynote speakers included crypto pioneer, Brock Pierce, who is capable of holding a crowd’s attention if he were describing the process of paint drying. Blockchain University founder Jason King delivered an upbeat message for the future by touting the growing demand for blockchain proficient technologists. Several speakers focused on the eventual marriage of traditional finance to the blockchain.

Day Two kicked off with a passionate presentation by Craig Sanderson, appropriately title “The Blockchain is Alive.” The two following speakers were crypto pioneer Nick Spanos and Dr. Patrick Byrne, who delivered a “where are we now” update on his TZero project. Byrne gave a terrific presentation, but it seemed to raise more questions than answers, particularly as to whether TZero is an actual exchange or an ATS (alternative trading system) in the traditional sense.

The discussion panels, dubbed “fireside chats,” seemed to create the most buzz. Their overarching theme was the regulatory environment surrounding every aspect of blockchain technology and investments. The content wasn’t very controversial. Some audience members eagerly waited to question the accessible and friendly speakers in the exhibition area. The big takeaway from these fireside chats was that the future of blockchain rests with incorporating into the mainstream, particularly by addressing requirements from banks, regulators, and institutional investors.

BTC Miami was a well-organized, well-attended event where attendees were treated to a diverse and dynamic array of keynote speakers, informative discussion panels, and opportunities to rub elbows with blockchain pioneers and movers. BTC Miami’s reputation as a mandatory “must-attend” event is well deserved and well earned.

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Mr. Schwartz is chief operating officer of CoinAxess, a digital asset exchange. He has held management positions at leading companies in the information, software, and communication industries. Schwartz was president of the Financial Services Division of TNS, Inc., a Virginia based telecommunications organization. He earned his bachelor of science from School of Management at Boston University and a master in business administration from the Stern School of Business at New York University.