Blockchain and cryptocurrency are becoming such a vital part of the new global economy, trade shows and business conferences are now dedicated to the phenomenon. The latest edition is BlockShow, an event that debuted in Europe, developed a huge presence in Asia and has now come to the United States for the first time with a two-day convention in Las Vegas.
“The goal of BlockShow is to show that the community, technology and everything that’s happening right now is getting serious,” says BlockShow CEO Addy Crezee.
About 1,500 registered guests signed up for BlockShow Americas 2018, which runs August 20-21 inside the Palazzo Ballrooms at the Sands Expo Convention Center — connected to the Venetian resort on the Strip. When walking through the trade event, it’s clear that collectively, the attendees don’t appear to fall into any single demographic. Men and women are both well represented in a wide range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities.
“That’s the space now. It’s not going down, but it’s getting mature,” explains Crezee. “That means more and more people come. A more diverse crowd comes. For example, in 2017, when the market was up and all the prices were up, it was more about speculators. They aren’t quite the same.”
BlockShow features more than 80 guest speakers. One of the biggest draws is Bobby Lee, co-founder of BTCC. “We’re in the digital age, the age of the internet, IoT, artificial intelligence — all the buzzwords,” Lee said from the stage. “But what I’m really passionate about is cryptocurrency and digital assets. What’s happened, especially in the last 10 years, is the emergence of digital assets. For the first time, we trust mathematics. We don’t have to lay our trust in banking systems, in countries, in central banks, in paper money or plastic money”
BlockShow also features Coin Market, a small exhibition hall where vendors can promote themselves, and Battle Stage, where controversial topics are discussed and debated. The Dealroom is an open meeting area with tables where people can use an app to make appointments with other attendees, even if they’ve never met before. Organizers say the ability to network with like-minded people is one of the most appealing aspects of blockchain business conferences.
“Startups get investors. Investors get interesting projects,” says Crezee. “People who don’t know about blockchain get education because they can listen to real people with a track record.”
Jan Herburt-Hewell is an associate investment manager with a major American financial services company. He says he was encouraged to attend BlockShow by his manager, but also has a deep personal interest in the topic of cryptocurrency.
“My greatest interest right now is tokenization of assets,” he says. “Where they can have a token represent real estate and freely trade it in a manor that will give smaller investors a new market and more opportunities.”
As someone involved in the finance industry, Herburt-Hewell says conferences can offer education to show the average person blockchain technology isn’t a fad that’s going to implode or go away.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I think the best way to learn about it is to go to the source and hear it from knowledgeable experts themselves,” he says. “There’s a lot of buzz going on. Wall Street gets excited.”
One of the most anticipated components of the event is the announcement of the BlockShow Oscar on the second day, awarded to a startup that utilizes groundbreaking solutions in the world of blockchain. The winner of the award at BlockShow Europe 2018 was Shelf Auctioning Network, a decentralized online auction marketplace for cars.
BlockShow has come a long way since the very first edition of the event in Munich in early 2017, which built on the momentum of a smaller conference in Helsinki in 2016. The trade show recently drew a crowd of 3,000 attendees in Berlin, but will it return to Las Vegas next year?
“We’ll think about it,” says CEO Addy Crezee. “But we’re focusing mainly on Asia now. We’re back with Asia Blockchain Week in Singapore at the end of November this year.”