I joined over 12,000 attendees worldwide at the sold-out 2021 Bitcoin conference in crypto-friendly Miami. Bitcoin luminaries including MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as many others, addressed a packed conference center in Miami’s artistic Wynwood neighborhood.
The large number of attendees confirmed the conference’s overarching message of the rising strength and growth of the Bitcoin network. This year’s conference was six times greater than the last Bitcoin conference that hosted 2,000 Bitcoin enthusiasts in 2019. While Bitcoin started from a small group of cypherpunks a little over a decade ago, a growing industry that helps people and institutions acquire, hold, transfer, and trade Bitcoin, as well as other crypto-assets, was well represented and spoke volumes to the increasingly mainstream Bitcoin user base.
Although Bitcoin and its proponents are becoming progressively mainstream, the Bitcoin community has not strayed from its anti-authoritarian and pro-civil liberties roots. In that regard, former representative Ron Paul and other speakers rallied against central banks, unchecked money printing, and encroachments on freedom of speech, personal privacy, and property rights. Pro skateboarder Tony Hawk told his own compelling story of bringing the skateboarding counterculture into the mainstream by staying true to his craft. While the Bitcoin network continues to expand its base, the conference speakers and the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to them showed that the Bitcoin community remains strongly committed to its founding values rooted in personal sovereignty and economic freedom.
Consistent with the Bitcoin network’s growth, another theme from the conference was that Bitcoin is for the billions—not just the billionaires. While much of the innovation and adoption in the Bitcoin industry has come from the United States, this crypto asset gives billions of unbanked people in struggling economies around the globe an opportunity to store and send value anywhere in the world without censorship or exorbitant remittance fees. Indeed, for those in struggling countries who are forced to use fiat currencies debased by the unpredictable whim of corrupt regimes, the ability to store, send and receive value in an easily transferrable digital bearer asset with a fixed supply that cannot be censored or confiscated can be lifesaving.
Jack Dorsey underscored this humanitarian case for Bitcoin during his appearance. He set an ambitious goal for his company Square to make Bitcoin the native currency of the Internet. To help meet that goal, Dorsey and other panelists, including Paxful CEO, Ray Youssef, highlighted their work to encourage the adoption of Bitcoin in Africa and other developing parts of the world. Dorsey also addressed scrutiny over Bitcoin’s consumption of energy by noting that it actually incentivizes the use of renewable, stranded or otherwise wasted energy. A censorship protest during Dorsey’s discussion grabbed a great deal of media attention. But the real message from Dorsey’s address was that making Bitcoin easily accessible, particularly to the unbanked, is his life’s most important work.
The end of the conference further solidified the message of Bitcoin’s global adoption, especially in the developing world, when the President of El Salvador announced legislation to make Bitcoin legal tender in his country of 6.4 million. Under this legislation, El Salvador would also keep Bitcoin on its balance sheet. If this legislation passes as expected, El Salvador would become the first nation on the planet to formally accept Bitcoin in this manner. While 2021 has already seen a wave of institutional Bitcoin adoption, the second half of this year may indeed also see formal adoption by governments. Miami Mayor Suarez also confirmed his continuing efforts to have his…
Read More:Themes from the 2021 Bitcoin Conference