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Six Huge Takeaways From Bitcoin Miami 2022

Another year has been and gone, at least for the annual Bitcoin conference. Held again in Florida, the event saw the cryptocurrency community descend on the Miami Beach Conference Center for a long weekend of speechifying, networking and partying, all to the end of aiding Bitcoin’s march towards world domination (or at least more widespread usage). As with last year’s event, it succeeded in attracting a healthy smattering of news coverage, even if much of it wasn’t always entirely supportive.

But what actually happened at Bitcoin 2022? In this article we rundown the most significant stories and announcements emerging from the four-day conference, taking in everything from rabble-rousing speeches and price predictions to new product announcements. And in the process, a picture will emerge of Bitcoin still struggling to make that big, this-changes-everything breakthrough, but nonetheless steadily growing and increasingly laying the foundations for future adoption.

Was Bitcoin Miami 2022 the best crypto conference ever?

Peter Thiel Blames Bitcoin’s Failure to Launch on Financial ‘Gerontocracy’

PayPal co-founder and libertarian/authoritarian Peter Thiel gave a keynote address in which he vituperated a “finance gerontocracy” for holding Bitcoin back and preventing more substantial investment and adoption in the cryptocurrency. This gerontocracy includes Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, who the 54-year-old Thiel described as “enemy number one” and “the sociopathic grandpa from Omaha,” and who is against Bitcoin because it basically makes funds or holding companies (such as Berkshire Hathaway) redundant.

“There’s always a sense [that] if you’re a money manager you want to pretend it’s complicated to invest. And if all you have to do is buy bitcoin […] all these people are out of business,” he said.

The financial gerontracy, according to Thiel, also includes JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and BlackRock’s Larry Fink. What was most interesting about Thiel’s commentary was that it described the aversion of this gerontocracy to bitcoin as politically motivated, and that if it were to lose its political bias, it would realize that investing in BTC (whether for a hedge or pension fund, or whatever else) is an obviously good move.

“When they choose not to allocate to bitcoin, that is a deeply political choice, and we need to be pushing back on them,” he said.

Depending on your own views, Thiel’s characterization of this issue in political terms may or may not be troubling. The billionaire appeared to pin the main barrier against Bitcoin’s adoption on the growing drive towards ESG [environmental, social and corporate governance] investment and “virtue signalling” among big institutions. He described such institutions as operating on the center-left of the political spectrum, despite the obvious fact that many were the architects of a financial crisis that caused a “lost decade of financial growth” for nearly half of all American counties and left at least three in ten Americans still waiting for their finances to recover some ten years later.

“Perhaps the real enemy is ESG. It’s always sort of unclear what it means […] you might think it’s not charitable of me to sort of name some enemies here, but I think that ESG is just a hate factory; it’s a factory naming enemies, and we should not be allowing them to do that,” he added, before comparing ESG to the Chinese Communist Party.

Summing up, Thiel then described the community behind Bitcoin as a “revolutionary youth movement,” with his entire speech looking like an attempt to tie Bitcoin’s growth to some kind of culture war. Such rhetoric may help inspire some Bitcoiners to push hard in developing the cryptocurrency in whatever way they can, but ultimately, if Thiel is correct in diagnosing that the wealthiest and most powerful people in America are dead-set against Bitcoin, the latter arguably doesn’t have much hope.

Cathie Wood, Michael Saylor Double Down on $1m Bitcoin Predictions

If nothing else, Bitcoin 2022 was a place for diehards to preach to the choir, with Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood and MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor being foremost among them. Both of them sat down together at Bitcoin 2022 to discuss the wider outlook for BTC, and both confirmed they’re sticking by previous forecasts of the cryptocurrency reaching $1 million (and maybe higher).

In Wood’s case, she and/or her firm expect bitcoin to reach this milestone by 2030. More generally, both she and Saylor believe that Bitcoin is in a very good position at the present moment. Because even if it continues to seesaw from one price level to another, and even if it hasn’t been widely adopted, it nonetheless has forced institutions to begin taking it seriously. On top of this, crises such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have shown it has genuine utility.

In fact, Saylor used part of his discussion with Wood to share an anecdote relating to how Merril Lynch basically laughed at him when, two years ago, he asked the bank if it would sell him bitcoin. Now, it has drastically changed its attitude.

“Now my inbox has bitcoin research from Merrill Lynch, sent to me by the same broker. Like we’re covering it now. This is what we think. So every bulge bracket farm is starting to cover it,” he said.

Mexican Billionaire Ricardo Salinas Reveals that 60% of His Wealth is in Bitcoin

One of Mexico’s richest individuals, Ricardo Salinas used his spot on a Bitcoin 2022 panel to disclose that 60% of his “liquid portfolio” is held in BTC. This arguably reinforces the message from Saylor that more institutions — and wealthy people — are increasingly taking bitcoin seriously.

In fact, Salinas takes bitcoin so seriously that he also used his appearance to trash cash and bonds.

“Bond investment is a terrible investment. I wouldn’t touch a bond with a 10-foot pole. It’s just the worst thing. I mean, the best thing that can happen to you is you get back your $100. That’s the best thing that can happen,” he said, before referring to cash as “useless” and “not even good for toilet paper.”

Again, Salinas remarks provides another example of how Bitcoin Miami 2022 was in large part a platform to evangelize vehemently for the value of bitcoin over cash and more traditional investments. It’s also another example of how many within the Bitcoin community are relatively extreme and un-nuanced in their views, for better and for worse.

Strike, Curve, Cash App Unveil New Products and Services

However, it would be grossly unfair to claim that Bitcoin 2022 was all about ‘preaching to the converted,’ and that most attendees see the cryptocurrency’s progress in stark, black-and-white terms. That’s because more than a few companies took the opportunity to announce actual new products or services related to Bitcoin.

Most notably, Strike announced a series of partnerships with major payment providers and retailers, enabling it to create a network of bitcoin payments whereby BTC holders can spend their holdings at merchants and retail outlets throughout the United States and beyond. The network would make use of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, allowing for fast BTC payments at thousands of stores.

“You’re going to be able to walk into a grocery store, to Whole Foods, to a Chipotle, if you want to use a Lightning node over Tor, you do that,” said Strike CEO Jack Maller.

Similarly impressive was Cash App’s unveiling of a service that lets customers automatically use a portion of their regular paychecks to buy bitcoin. Dubbed Paid in Bitcoin, the feature basically provides a simple way for bitcoin investors to pursue a dollar-cost averaging method for buying up BTC.

One other company announcing a new BTC-related product was London-based Curve, which revealed a rewards program whereby users can link multiple credit and bank cards to their Curve card, and earn bitcoin on purchases made through the latter. In fact, if one of their pre-existing cards already offers bitcoin rewards, the new Curve program will enable them to ‘double-dip’ their BTC rewards.

People Came for Bitcoin, But Stayed for After-Event Partying

Proving that Bitcoin 2022 was as much a social, networking-based event as much as one where people shared commercially actionable information, many of the biggest occasions during the weekend were the parties that were held after all the talks had finished.

As recounted in an eye-opening Daily Beast article, at least a dozen parties connected to Bitcoin Miami 2022 were held every day, with some people apparently coming only for them (and not buying a ticket to the actual event). Many of these took place at swanky nightclubs such as E11even, where tables cost upwards of several thousand dollars. If nothing else, this showed that Bitcoin’s core social circles are now more than a little affluent, at least more so than the average retail investor.

While some may dissent from the Daily Beast’s portrayal, it also painted Bitcoin’s core social circles as predominantly male. On top of this, many are “true believers,” of the type that take offense when Bitcoin is discussed in the same breadth as altcoins, and when the latter are described as ‘cryptocurrencies’ (which some Bitcoiners would contend they aren’t really).

Ongoing Growth, But No Breakthrough

Overall, Bitcoin 2022 lacked the kind of momentous news its predecessor benefitted from in June 2021, when El Salvador President Nayib Bukele used the conference to announce that his government would be making BTC legal tender. A rumor that Apple would reveal its own foray into cryptocurrency (in partnership with Strike) around the time of the event failed to become a reality, so in the end, what attendees were left with was a mix of sermonizing, product announcements and partying.

Still, with Strike, Cash App and Curve all chiming in with announcements, and with plenty of converts to the Bitcoin cause (including an ever-expanding roll call of celebrities and sportspeople), Bitcoin Miami 2022 showed that Bitcoin continues to grow steadily. It may not have ‘taken over the world’ yet (as Thiel’s speech seemed to imply it will), but it’s certainly laying the foundations for its more widespread use.

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CryptoVantage Author Simon Chandler

About the Author

Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London. He writes about technology, markets and politics, and has bylines for Forbes, Digital Trends, CCN, Wired, TechCrunch, the Verge, the Sun, the New Internationalist, and TruthOut, among many others. His Twitter handle is @_simonchandler_

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