Miami is known for a lot of things: roads lined with palm trees, perfect weather, beaches that rival Monet’s Beaches at Pourville, and glamorous nightlife. But the Magic City is adding another act to its bag of tricks.
The city has gone crypto.
Miami’s mayor, Francis Suarez, recently announced that Miami would allow employees to collect salaries and accept tax payments with cryptocurrency. The Miami Heat’s arena is being renamed for a cryptocurrency called FTX, and some neighborhoods even have Bitcoin ATMs. But perhaps the largest statement of crypto’s arrival to the Floridian hot spot was the Bitcoin 2021 Miami conference.
From June 4-5, Bitcoin enthusiasts from around the globe flew south to listen to a series of speakers discuss the nuances of crypto. One of those enthusiasts included PaymentsJournal’s very own Director of Content Strategy, Ryan Cole.
Cole attended the exhibition with a goal to better map the ecosystem. “Who is in this space?” he asked. “What are these companies connected to? Who is their target audience? And how far along is this space developed?”
One company that really stood out was a fintech called Verady. CEO Kell Canty described Verady as the last mile between Bitcoin and QuickBooks, and it seems to be helping CFOs book and recognize Bitcoin as a treasury asset. Bitcoin faces a number of challenges from CFOs because it’s taxed as property, it’s not considered a payment, which is completely different from how dollars are accounted. Verady serves to help these CFOs who are hesitant or having trouble integrating into the crypto space.
Prime Trust also had a stellar performance at the conference. The technology company was abuzz in seemingly every conversation being had among attending Bitcoiners. Cole describes it as “crypto in a box.” Prime Trust serves to enable all relationships necessary behind a crypto startup: banking, licensing, KYC & AML. Here, these companies can connect fiat to crypto rails. Prime Trust chief value proposition seems to be time-to-market for emerging crypto service providers.
Another player seemingly connected everywhere is Anchorage Digital: the first federally chartered digital bank, who cut their teeth in the market handling crypto’s custody challenge. An issue that Bitcoin companie soften run into is where to store their currency. Some will use ‘cold storage’ and keep it on a flashdrive, or ‘hot storage,’ where the currency is kept on an exchange. Anchorage Digital offers a secure place to keep Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, as well as lending, trading, and financing.
There were plenty of payment-adjacent companies in attendance, as well. BitPay is more merchant-focused and specializes in facilitating transactions, essentially enabling merchant acceptance. They do everything from payment to invoicing, and clients never have to touch any of the crypto. Other payment-adjacent companies included Moon Technologies, MoonPay, and Embedly.
Two payroll companies, BitWage and Hedge, caught the attention of Cole. They both seemed to be fulfilling the same mission of helping companies get an HR advantage over their competitors by paying employees in Bitcoin or other forms of crypto. The idea is to take away the hassle of conversion for the employees and pay directly in digital currency.
Most intriguing perhaps were the Bitcoin A.T.M.s. Coin Source and Bitcoin Depot were two stand out representatives in this arena, explaining the allure of a technology whose traditional form seems to be losing popularity. The expectation for Bitcoin A.T.M.s is that they will appeal to older, more traditional bankers who prefer a more familiar way of interacting with currency. They may also pique the interest of the underbanked or those looking to make smaller transactions.
Rounding out the vendor highlights are the exchange players. While some are working more on the B2B side and others focused more on invoices, their overall services are quite similar. Trustlink, Celsius, TradeStation, Edge, and BitStamp are all offering similar Bitcoin as a store value. They’re less interested in how to transact Bitcoin and more concentrated on how to get and trade it.
All-in-all, the Bitcoin 2021 Conference’s first Miami-based event was a huge success. At least 12,000 people were in attendance, enthusiastically participating in lectures and donning swag from an array of vendors. While there was much to learn from crypto experts, there was one major takeaway from the action-packed weekend: we must stop underestimating Bitcoin.