Toronto Bitcoin Expo, a quick look

Over the last weekend I was in Toronto for the Bitcoin Expo conference. Here is my overall impression of the event. I will probably elaborate on a few things in a later post.

Overall remarks

Looking back at the event, I personally feel it was promoting a few of its key sponsors - mainly Ethereum and CAVirtex. Both of them had large expo booths and were represented in multiple panels. Perhaps it is fitting since they are the two largest sponsors of the event, but I personally become saturated with them quickly.

To some extent, what was being presented wasn't much of news to anyone that keeps up to date with Bitcoin. Most of us already know that taxation with Bitcoin is a pain, that the laws surrounding Bitcoin are complicated and vary from place to place, and know about the various levels of security of Bitcoin wallets.

That being said, it was interesting to hear some peoples' opinions on a few matters. So lets get to it.

Quick summary

For those that want just a bite-size summary of what someone like myself took away from the conference, here it is:

  • Future of crypto currencies is not one global coin, it's plurality of coins. If a new currency is useful or beneficial in some way to some people, it will be used. We will have currencies specific to apps (like Air Miles or StackExchange reputation), tokens for various resources (say, payment for decentralized storage in decentralized Dropboxes or what have you), branded currencies (by companies, celebrities and whoever), as well as a plethora of others.
  • In the near future, if something can be decentralized, it will be. During the hackathon we had a decentralized Silk Road-style application created. Decentralized storage will soon be upon us. We have decentralized exchanges in form of Ripple and MasterCoin. Ethereum is decentralizing a lot of other things. All in all, soon we will have a number of things that will be decentralized just because it can be done.
  • Joseph David believes that Canadian senate hearing on cryptocurrencies went well and that the Canadian senate is looking favourably at Bitcoin. He regrets not putting enough emphasis on merchant protection and anti-chargeback features of Bitcoin.
  • There are so many opportunities in the Bitcoin space right now that most companies have to turn them down by the numbers and just focus on one or two things. This is a great time to be a developer, just like in the early days of the Internet.
  • Taxation and laws surrounding Bitcoin are complex and can vary from individual to individual. Best consult your lawyer and/or accountant while dealing in them. Alternatively, if you want to develop some all-in-one solution for handling Bitcoin taxation, you will have a lot of clients eager to throw money at you.
  • As usual, you should use good security when handling money. No one person should be able to make a significant withdrawal. Also, be aware of crafty people that use social engineering to try getting access to your site. Fake IDs are cheap, fake social profiles are cheap, and minimum KYC requirements are not enough for minimum security requirements when dealing with account resets and so forth.
  • Global Bitcoin Alliance is a really good organization to represent Bitcoin users. If you want to create your local branch, they already have all the resources you need.


And some other random small remarks from the conference:

  • If you are a non-technical person making statements on the technical aspects of Bitcoin, you better do your research and do it good. One of the speakers was making a few claims along the lines of "Bitcoin Foundation owns the Bitcoin development team", "The dev team can make any change to the software sometimes against the community's will" (in regards to the lowering of the fees in Bitcoin Core), or that "Satoshi was probably Japanese, so for him high speed Internet was the norm, that's why future scalability of Bitcoin wasn't an issue for him". Ron Gross debunked all of such baseless claims in a great way. But the fact still remains - do your research and don't try spreading misconceptions.
  • There are some people that are good speakers and there are some people that don't work well on a panel. I won't be pointing fingers, but I would say that half of the people speaking at one panel weren't that good and it was rather painful to sit through.
  • To one of the people representing Blackcoin at the conference - if you are talking with a panellist after their talk with about 10 minutes to the next panel, be brief and let other people talk with them as well. It was rather annoying just standing there listening to a dragged-out conversation while there were about 5 other people that wanted to quickly engage with one of the panellists.

I think this about wraps up some basic remarks from the conference. I might expand on a few topics in a future post if there will be anything worth remarking about. I'm still mulling over the conference.

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