The irony of attending a cryptocurrency conference through a casino was clearly lost on Crypto Bahamas organizers.
But last week, if you turned left past the slot machines, under the blue glass chandeliers at Nassau’s Baha Mar resort, down the bright yellow boardwalk to the convention center, you found a cluster of crypto magnates who no longer cared have taunts from critics who compare their industry to gambling.
At the gathering on the beach, Crypto’s confidence was evident. The message from the event was that crypto’s disruption to the financial sector cannot be stopped, so it’s time to move on with the program. “This is happening whether you like it or not,” said Anthony Scaramucci, briefly White House communications director in the early days of the Trump administration, whose events company Salt co-hosted the conference with exchange FTX.
The sheer star power that the two companies have been able to bring to the stage is a testament to the growing adoption of crypto. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried sat next to Gisele Bundchen, the model he will appear with in a Vogue magazine ad campaign. Bundchen’s husband, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, joined the 30-year-old crypto billionaire in a session simply titled “Winning.”
That evening, in a tall, whitewashed gazebo, Bankman-Fried and Scaramucci hosted other crypto potentates, along with pop star Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom, for a private candlelit dinner.
The next day, Bankman-Fried took the stage again, this time with former US President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister. The audience — from a 14-year-old decentralized finance developer to representatives from Wall Street investment banks and public pension funds — heard repeated sermons that regulators need to catch up with the pace of crypto and that countries that don’t will see the light watch as digital asset innovation flees elsewhere.
Certainly, in places like the Bahamas, these crypto migrants have been given a warm welcome. A line of upright Bahamian police officers, whose crisp white uniforms did not match the flip-flop-wearing hackers, witnessed the presence of a government delegation, including the Prime Minister, who opened the event.
“It’s like being a pirate in the past. We’ve always been on the edge,” said one veteran Bahamian entrepreneur.
But the bravery of the event easily tipped into excess. German billionaire Christian Angermayer joined Scaramucci in an interview titled “Elevating Crypto Consciousness,” which turned out to be a discussion of how people could use hallucinogens to stop worrying and love crypto. (One Direction singer Liam Payne was booked to interview Angermayer, but he canceled the morning of the event.)
Many of the visitors to the Bahamas, who danced into the wee hours at the resort’s nightclub to DJ Steve Aoki, may find themselves with a hangover after last year’s crypto trading and speculation.
The total crypto market cap declined another 5 percent during the four-day rally, down 40 percent from its peak last fall.
And in private chats at the edges of the palm-lined lawns, as Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” blared through the speakers, attendees admitted leaner times were ahead. One executive predicted that the vast majority of existing crypto projects would go down the drain. Among the guests old enough to remember, many saw echoes of the dot-com boom.
“There will be a washout,” said a venture capital partner. He pointed out that most companies that have raised funds in the past two years, often at very generous valuations, have raised enough capital to last 18 to 24 months. Soon they will have to seek new financing in a much more difficult environment, especially if they have not been able to live up to their ambitions. Even Scaramucci admitted markets are heading for a “chaotic time”.
“Everyone is a long-term investor until they have short-term losses,” he said. But crypto believers are convinced that, like after the dot-com crash, the longest-lived projects will survive.
If predictions of a downturn come true, the market shakeout will still be a test for true believers. The risk they are taking is that the enthusiasm for digital assets will survive any market downturn or an extended period of lackluster trading.
Just as conference delegates strolled past blackjack tables and slot machines to reach the symposium, millions of people have also entered the crypto world through the casino during the past 18 months of the pandemic-driven trading frenzy. The question now is: when losses start to mount, will the punters stay?
Source: Crypto News Austria