Miami’s Enthusiasm for Crypto Wanes Ahead of Annual Bitcoin Conference
Despite Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s plans to transform the city into a leading crypto hub, the bearish crypto market seems to have dampened enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in the city, according to industry observers. Although Suarez continues to collect his salary in Bitcoin, his optimism has waned, and he has lost some of his earlier enthusiasm on how crypto could boost the city’s economy. This sentiment is shared by other officials and entrepreneurs in Miami, who are no longer expecting crypto to become a key element in the city’s drive toward becoming a major hub for business and innovation.
A year ago, when the annual Bitcoin conference opened in Miami, the city was considered the biggest digital currency booster in the country, and MiamiCoin traded on a global crypto exchange. The Miami Heat basketball team played at FTX Arena, and crypto exchange Blockchain.com was preparing to move its headquarters to a flashy office in the city’s Wynwood neighborhood. A year later, however, none of the above is true anymore, reflecting how turbulent 2022 was for crypto, but also for Miami.
Following FTX’s collapse, the city’s NBA team now plays its postseason home games at Kaseya Center, and the exchange that accommodated MiamiCoin stopped trading the crypto after its value lost more than 99% of its value. Blockchain.com also dropped its initial plans to move into Wynwood. In the meantime, attendance at the Miami NFT Conference in April 2023 dropped by about 1,500 compared with last year’s edition, and the show was forced to move to an area about half the size of the warehouse that accommodated its 2022 edition.
Ryan Kirkley, a local entrepreneur who runs and advises early-stage blockchain and artificial intelligence businesses and helps connect them with venture capital, said, “Most of crypto was a pyramid scheme.” While Miami may have lost some of its luster as a crypto hub, Suarez remains committed to his vision, noting that “You learn, you grow, you get stronger.” As Miami gears up to host another edition of the Bitcoin conference, the city’s crypto landscape is much different from what it was during last year’s show.