More than 1,600 people participated in the Bitcoin Conference hosted by the Mays Innovation Research Center in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, held mostly via Zoom April 16-17.
“Our goal was to provide more informed view of Bitcoin and the new economy it is creating,” said Center Director Korok Ray. “Bitcoin is a radical technology that will certainly affect technology, business and finance, and the law/policy/regulatory landscape.”
One speaker who garnered attention was Robert Kaplan, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. He told conference attendees that the Federal Reserve Bank should stop providing current levels of support to the national economy once the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.
“We’ve got to balance the side effects of what we are doing,” Kaplan said. “One is inflation, but also excesses and balances in the financial markets.”
Demand for bitcoin may decrease if the Federal Reserve scales back its current economic support. Other conference speakers, including venture capitalist Tim Draper and value investor Bill Miller, stated their belief that long-term demand for Bitcoin will be high because of its transparency, scarcity and detachment from any national currency.
Other speakers included Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates; Michael Saylor of MicroStrategy; Pete Briger of Fortress Investment Group; Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners; Dawn Stump of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission; and Nobel Laureate Eric Maskin of Harvard University.
Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as the world’s first cryptocurrency, or digital currency. It operates entirely outside government, state and financial institutions and is bought and sold anonymously, usually through exchanges such as Coinbase.
There are only 21 million bitcoins, and some experts expect their value to rise due to increased competition for a limited supply. Other experts disagree, noting the risk present in regulation and that a Bitcoin is not linked to precious metals or other tangible assets that provide real value.
Ray and Texas A&M senior marketing major Grant Weston came up with the idea for the conference. Weston and his roommate, Matt Lohstroh, also founded the Texas A&M Bitcoin Club to create a community of students who understand the role and purpose of Bitcoin and its implications.
“The conference was successful in raising awareness for the Mays Innovation Research Center, the mission of which is to understand the nature of innovation and how it benefits society,” Ray said.