The crypto sector is reviving in the Swiss Alps, but its presence at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this year is more muted than it was in the heyday of crypto fever after a series of substantial declines in pricing and the turbulent demise of the crypto exchange, FTX, in November 2022. Notwithstanding these obstacles, influential figures in the cryptocurrency space flocked to Davos recently, spurred on by a recent victory.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the trading of Bitcoin-backed investment funds a few days prior to the event. The approval marked a substantial victory for the crypto community after years of grappling with skeptical lawmakers and regulators.
Michael Sonnenshein, CEO of Grayscale Investments, expressed confidence in the industry’s integration into financial services. His company was crucial in the legal battle that led to the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin (BTC) investment funds.
This move represents a global shift in the acceptance of cryptocurrency’s legitimacy, removing the cloud of fraud, poor management and excessive speculation that has dogged the market in recent years. The endorsement of the spot Bitcoin ETF in the United States, championed by influential figures on Wall Street, exemplifies the efforts by governments worldwide to legitimize digital assets. It also represents a break from the aftermath of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was found guilty of defrauding customers and investors.
A lot of crypto executives are taking a more subdued approach, keeping in mind the rise and fall of Bankman-Fried.
The topic of discussion at WEF is how digital assets can be integrated into conventional finance even more. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on using blockchain technology, basically a sophisticated version of a spreadsheet, to improve the efficiency of conventional asset monitoring.
Although talks on cryptocurrencies are not as important as artificial intelligence (AI), which dominates the Davos agenda, the latter is nevertheless relevant. Business leaders’ interactions are dominated by AI, and along the main promenade in Davos, AI is heavily featured in company branding.
While the industry is at odds with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Gary Gensler, the SEC chair, over issues of financial crime and consumer safety, industry leaders at Davos believe the atmosphere at the WEF is far friendlier. They have the opportunity to lobby other global leaders who might be more receptive to the advantages of digital assets.
Faryar Shirzad, the head policy officer of Coinbase, revealed that the company had discussions with 10 to 15 ministers along with 3 prime ministers, highlighting the governments’ keen interest. He noted that discussions were for a broader view on collaboration and investigation of the potential benefits of crypto, highlighting that interactions with governments are not limited to the issues brought up by lawmakers.
Nonetheless, industry actors such as Stronghold Digital Mining Inc. (NASDAQ: SDIG) will take the presence of crypto companies at the WEF as a positive step for the industry.
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