Crypto determined to emerge from the shadows

Early bird WEF delegates will be learning about blockchain in the ski resort of St Moritz. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

Global politicians, regulators, financiers and technology pioneers will soon be gathering in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. This has not been lost on the blockchain and crypto industry, which is redoubling efforts to engage with policy makers.

This content was published on January 10, 2020 - 11:19

Next week’s Crypto Finance ConferenceExternal link (CfC), in the up-market ski resort of St Moritz, has positioned itself to attract such big-hitters, days before they attend the annual WEF summit in nearby Davos.

Initially conceived as a match-making platform between deep-pocketed investors and blockchain start-ups, the third edition of CfC has now broadened its scope. 

Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss, the US billionaire bitcoin twins, are undoubtedly the star attraction, but the guest list also includes representatives from central banks, financial regulators and government advisors.

“If we only invited crypto enthusiasts then we would just hear a self-fulfilling prophesy that crypto is great and here to stay,” CfC CEO Nicolo Stöhr told me. “We need other voices from outside the blockchain community who can point out what needs to be improved.”

The goal is neither to preach to the converted or to convert the sceptics, says Stöhr. “We want people to come and decide for themselves. It’s no good looking the other way because crypto looks scary or you don’t understand blockchain. We want to provide people with high quality information.”

Africa and China focus

This will include an in-depth look at how blockchain could impact Africa and an examination of the likely crypto innovations set to emerge from China this year.

CfC has shelved its plans to expand with other conferences abroad following an experimental event in San Francisco and an aborted partnership in Tokyo last year. Stöhr is convinced that the home base of St Moritz provides the best venue to stage the event.

Blockchain’s engagement with regulation and government stepped up a few gears in 2019 with the emergence of Facebook’s Libra stablecoin project and noises from several central banks, including Switzerland, that national digital currencies might be on the cards in the near future.

The Crypto Finance Conference, which runs from January 15 to 17, aims to accelerate this process. And the drive won’t end there. The following week, the fringes of the World Economic Forum will also prove a magnet for the blockchain crowd.

Side events in the hotels, cafes and bars along the Davos high street will include Crypto Mountain RocksExternal link, the CV Summit DavosExternal link, Blockbase DavosExternal link and the Global Blockchain Business CouncilExternal link’s Blockchain Central DavosExternal link events.

Crypto is no longer content to remain in the shadows.

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