Some impressions from Quantum Miami, the former North American Bitcoin Conference.
“Bull markets produce bullshit, bear markets bear fruit” was my favourite quote from this year’s North American Bitcoin Conference, renamed Quantum. Brock Pierce, chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, investor in many of the early Bitcoin companies and advisor to the president of El Salvador, coined this on a panel.
Brock also gave an excellent talk about his view of the “crypto winter”, which will most likely end soon. However, its effects are still being felt. This year’s conference was significantly less attended than those in previous years, probably because the people who are only in Bitcoin to make a quick buck left after the price drop and the many scandals of 2022.
Nevertheless, the mood was positive and optimistic. The conference, originally founded by Moe Levine in 2014, is under new management, hence the new name. It was inaugurated by Miami’s Bitcoin friendly mayor Francis Suarez, who confirmed that he is still being paid in Bitcoin, adding: “And my children will be happy about it!”
Miami has become one of the most important crypto hubs in the US. Many companies and individuals have moved here from New York and California because there is less regulation and lower taxes. Another factor is probably the high number of immigrants from Latin America in Miami. They have a much stronger affinity for Bitcoin because of their experiences with hyperinflation, capital controls and government inefficiency.
One of my personal highlights was this fireside chat with Bitcoin legend Charlie Shrem, one of the earliest Bitcoin entrepreneurs and co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation. Exactly nine years earlier, he was arrested and had to stay in prison for almost a year for not complying with one of the many outdated financial laws in the USA.
A sad case of government failure, but Charlie made the best out of his time in jail. He read many books and later wrote many interesting stories about it. My main reason to go to Miami this year was to see Charlie, as we are working on a new project together.
In general, it was a good conference with many top-class talks. Another personal highlight for me was Nick Spanos, founder of the Bitcoin Centre New York, who warned against central bank surveillance coins.
Some panels were interesting, like this one with women who are active in the Web 3 industry, moderated by Chantal Elloway. However, some were filled with representatives of sponsors who interviewed each other, which looked a bit funny.
But that doesn’t really matter much. The most important thing at any conference is to talk with people and to have fun. Every evening there was a party at the terrace on the banks of Miami River, plus numerous side events. And Miamians know how to throw a good party!
By Aaron Koenig