Bitcoin’s Big Tent Gets Bigger at Keynote 2015

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If you’ve been working in or around Bitcoin for a year or more you’ve probably taken notice of how many conferences are put on for this burgeoning industry. It might seem strange or even downright ridiculous at times, but considering the level of excitement and the torrent of interest surrounding Bitcoin it’s really no surprise.

It seems that the conference schedule in 2015 has relaxed considerably compared to the flurry of events that we saw in 2014 giving Bitcoin evangelists and entrepreneurs worldwide a chance to gather themselves for the next adoption tidal wave. The second half of 2015 sees the conference calendar heating up again, especially in California, with major events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. The first of these was a unique, one-day event that took place this past Monday organized by the group responsible for The North American Bitcoin Conference series, called Keynote 2015: The Distributed Ledger Conference.

The venue chosen for this event was a gorgeous ballroom at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Many of the speakers came from companies and projects outside of the Bitcoin space. There were talks on legacy payments, credit card innovations, automated accounting, and regulation workarounds that only lightly touched on Bitcoin. It was an opportunity for the diehards in the space to view Bitcoin through the lens of the legacy players pushing innovations very loosely or completely unrelated to Bitcoin and blockchain tech.

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Silvio Tavares of Cardlinx sought to dispel some credit cards myths, claiming credit cards are not inherently insecure, but rather the Internet is. He went on to say that credit cards are anonymous and also not expensive, attempting to encourage the Bitcoin-friendly crowd to think differently about credit cards. Michael Whitmire of the cloud-accounting company FloQast took the audience through a comprehensive history of double-entry bookkeeping. Brian Billingsley of Klarna, a company striving to lower the friction of online buying for consumers, especially on mobile, demonstrated the myriad ways that legacy online payments are broken.

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The exhibit hall was bustling with Bitcoin newcomers and the old faithful throughout the day. We at Airbitz met with a lot of first-timers at our booth, and made converts of almost everyone that visited us who has never owned Bitcoin before. The glowing remarks and positive feedback we received when these folks downloaded and explored their new Airbitz wallet were wonderfully encouraging, and added to the atmosphere of camaraderie that swirled through the air all day and into the night.

Unlike many Bitcoin conferences, Keynote went out of its way to bring fresh faces and minds to the circuit. It’s often lamented that the Bitcoin ecosystem is a veritable echo chamber, and when it comes to these kinds of events diversity and new blood among guests, sponsors, and exhibitors is a welcome sight. The community certainly benefits from including more and more participants, but even more so when new participants are companies who are secondarily or indirectly focused on Bitcoin and blockchain tech. This infusion was on display at Keynote 2015, and kudos to the organizers for achieving the eclectic mix.

Next on the conference calendar for the Airbitz team is Coin Congress in San Francisco next week. See you there!

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