This year’s BlockShow saw some 3,000 attendees flock to Berlin to hear the latest and greatest about the wide world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, and we were pleased to see the event host a designated “Spend Your Crypto Here” zone.
By all external appearances, it was a place where you could exchange your bitcoin, ether, or other cryptocurrency for t-shirts and conference knick-knacks. Among a tech-savvy crowd of this size, it made loads of sense to offer such a crypto-enabled storefront. Finally, a place where it was perfectly normal to pay with digital currency!
Then we asked the booth attendant which kinds of crypto she would accept in exchange for conference swag. Her reply was disappointing: “We accept hashtag crypto,” she said. Your author smacked his forehead so hard that it echoed down the hall.
You see, this “Spend Your Crypto Here” space was not an area to transact in your digital currency of choice; it was a conference publicity effort. It you tweeted or Facebooked about BlockShow with a certain hashtag attached (honestly, we’ve forgotten what the hashtag was), then you were free to take an item of your choice from the store. At no point in the “Spend Your Crypto Here” space was anyone actually spending crypto.
What a missed opportunity to demonstrate that cryptocurrency can be a normal, viable payments solution. If a well-attended blockchain conference isn’t the place to have a legit crypto-only storefront, then where is? This blunder reminds us of the stock image industry’s weak efforts to address the blockchain. They do so by providing customers with surreal images that vaguely evoke technology or a deleted scene from The Matrix (often with loud text proclaiming “BLOCKCHAIN” out of nowhere). In the cases of BlockShow and the stock image industry alike, both want you to know that cryptocurrency exists. But neither is giving you an opportunity to use it.