Against the backdrop of a giant, robotic bull meant to emulate the famous bull on Wall Street, mayor Francis Suarez welcomed cryptocurrency developers and investors to Miami on Wednesday. But his words could be taken as describing both his city and the emerging money technology when he said “Welcome to the future of finance.”
Thousands of people have converged on Miami for the four day Bitcoin 2022 conference, and Suarez has been one of the leading voices cheering on the emerging industry and encouraging companies to set up shop there.
From investment firms to blockchain real estate loan companies, from Bitcoin ATM owners to international remittance firms, Bitcoin has gained a substantial foothold in Miami, in part due to the city’s status as an international gateway to Central and South America. Recent reports show that Miami is tied for third in the nation in total blockchain investments, trailing New York City and Silicon Valley, but the city is making a huge push this week to attract more dollars.
While there are now over 18,000 different cryptocurrencies in existence, only an extremely small number of them currently hold any real value, with Bitcoin still holding the title as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the cryptocurrency world. Bitcoin is seen as a form of “digital gold” that is completely decentralized (no one controls it), extremely secure, easily transferred, and, most importantly, finite. Taken together, those qualities have everyone from crypto enthusiasts to major investment banks sitting up and taking notice, especially in a world economy that is currently facing significant inflation and vast debt.
Politicians are starting to take notice, too. And not just mayors like Suarez. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced plans to figure out a path for Florida to accept crypto tax payments. And President Joe Biden unveiled plans to study the creation of a cryptographic United States dollar, an announcement that, given the federal government’s known willingness to print dollars at the slightest whiff of a crisis, should be viewed with growing alarm.
Bitcoin is not without its faults, though. Two of the more common criticisms is that the network that supports Bitcoin consumes vast amounts of electricity to keep it secure, and that the quantity of transactions that the Bitcoin network can process in a given time frame is significantly limited.
That’s where conferences like Bitcoin 2022 come in. Already, there are new technologies being built on top of the Bitcoin network that aim to resolve some of the early growing pains associated with it, including the Lightning Network, a protocol that allows smaller, more frequent transactions to take place outside the main Bitcoin network. Offloading smaller transactions not only increases Bitcoin’s total transaction throughput, but also reduces energy demand.
Dozens of companies attending the Bitcoin 2022 conference this week will use the opportunity to share ideas, compare notes and cut deals that will shape the future of the world’s leading cryptocurrency. According to the conference organizers, at least 75 companies will be making announcements at the conference.