This past weekend, Toronto hosted Bitcoin’s first Canadian Expo.
With over 50 speakers from around the world, Bitcoin enthusiasts were able to absorb information from thought leaders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and innovators on the future opportunities with Bitcoin. The nonprofit event was hosted by a group of volunteers that wanted to educate the curious Canadian community and host guests from around the world from countries including China, Australia, Europe and others to educate and talk about Bitcoin.
Canada is known throughout the international Bitcoin circuit as leading the way with startup technologies for the digital currency. There were many companies exhibiting and presenting including Calgary entrepreneur Joseph David, CEO of CAVirtex, who started Canada’s largest Bitcoin exchange.
Bitcoins were frequently referred to as “nerd currency” throughout the event as discussions circulated around how entrepreneurs and venture capitalists can continue to work together to remove friction making Bitcoin easier to use and increase widespread adoption of the crypto currency that offers many opportunities and benefits to the world.
Conference organizer Anthony Di Iorio, founder of Ethereum, partner and founder of KryptoKit, Cointalk.ca, Toronto Bitcoin Meetup, Bitcoin Decentral and Executive Director, and Board member of the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada said that the investment climate is changing.
“More traditional venture capitalists are coming in, though there have not yet been any big cash flows into the space,” he said.
Having attended between nearly 15 Bitcoin conferences around the world, Di Iorio mentioned Canadian companies are leading the way with technology with startups like Ottawa-based Coin Kite. The community is also growing as the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada now has thousands of members. He also mentioned that he looks forward to his co-founded platform Etherium opening up possibilities for thought leaders to aggregate decentralized applications.
BITCOIN IN SOCIETY
Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, participated in two sessions and explained how volatility is good for Bitcoin as it makes the currency have value when it’s traded. Foreshadowing his session later in the afternoon, he observed, “if there is no way to create a war with Bitcoin as the sole currency then this is a conversation we should be having.” His later session examined the costs of going to war and the impact on the economy and society without the taxpayer consent that feels the aftermath in areas such as high inflation and unemployment.
The session went well past the scheduled time as engaged audience members were unable to come up with a way to make a war feasible in a society that runs exclusively on Bitcoins as it is tough to convince people of the economic benefit of waging a war with their own funds.
Despite the negative press that Bitcoin receives from the media, the expo was very positive and the overall theme repeated is that the main beneficiaries of the digital currency’s capabilities are those with the highest remittances that cannot afford them. 2.5 billion people do not have bank accounts and it is common for third party services to charge an average of up to 20% in fees to those receiving funds being wired from family around the world. Future Bitcoin technology will advance the capabilities for an SMS to send a transfer to a mobile phone to which Bitcoin can then be converted into local currency.
BITCOINS AND STARTUPS
Both entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are now flocking to Bitcoin as the favourable impact of the network efforts promote innovation in the space to grow the value of the digital currency and increase adoption by simplifying the use of Bitcoins. Entrepreneurs were warned that they need to be careful to structure their companies properly and go into this emerging industry with eyes open and weigh the risk factors to succeed.
It was noted that for those same reasons it is exciting to be an entrepreneur in Bitcoin right now as well. William Mougayar led a panel discussion with three venture capitalists invested in Bitcoin and they were all optimistic with where the technology and digital currency is going and they all predicted the value to at least double by the end of this year.
Investors are particularly interested in decentralized apps and payment processors improving to help brick and motor merchants adopt technology making it simple and cheaper to accept Bitcoin which will help drive mass adoption. Also important is the development of a card that can be used in machines throughout the world to standardize the digital currency.