The conference attracted all walks of life. Though mostly young men, there were many middle-aged and older attendees and significantly more women participants this year compared to last year’s conference. Many work in the fintech industry while others work for more traditional finance companies, nonprofits or even themselves.
Themes of this year’s conference were similar to last year’s: an agreed-upon need for a universal, decentralized currency; the importance of diversifying one’s investment portfolio; and a willingness to use bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general as a connector in an increasingly divided world — even if discussing bitcoin does become political at times.
Many attendees told FOX Business they were at the conference to learn about bitcoin as new investors or even skeptics of the cryptocurrency world. Others were industry experts or early investors who attended to educate others about bitcoin.
One attendee said bitcoin is about “democratizing money as we know it” and “removing power from central banks,” especially in countries with authoritarian leaders and skyrocketing inflation.
With no set dress code, attendees wore a mix of business and casual attire, as well as costumes — some of which included masks. Graphic tees were a popular theme, displaying the names of cryptocurrency and fintech companies or groups, with slogans like, “Get rich or die mining,” “Guns and Bitcoin” and “Saving communities one Bitcoin at a time.”
The event was hosted at the Miami Beach Convention Center, where attendees were greeted by the “Bitcoin Bull,” a more tech-friendly version of the Wall Street bull, at the entrance; a giant makeshift volcano; Skee-Ball machines; a mechanical bull; bitcoin-themed artwork; QR codes promising free bitcoin and more.
Speakers included PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel; NFL players Aaron Rodgers and Odell Beckham Jr.; tennis superstar Serena Williams; former University of Toronto professor and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson; Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; journalist Glenn Greenwald; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang; and many others.
Telegram, a messaging app that allows for end-to-end encryption, was another big topic at the event. Many attendees traded contact information via Telegram rather than Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other more mainstream social apps.
Miami has, in recent years, been dubbed the “crypto capital” of the United States and even the world as scrappy but successful tech investors and entrepreneurs flock to the coastal city to expand on their ideas.