The main Bitcoin conference of 2013 will take place in San Jose next weekend from May 17-19. The Bitcoin Foundation-organized event, entitled “The Future of Payments” is likely to be by far the largest gathering of Bitcoin users yet, with well over 500 people already signed up to attend. The conference will focus on three main aspects of Bitcoin: technology and mining, business, and economic and regulatory issues, and presentations throughout the conference will be run in parallel, one from each category at a time. Just like the previous two conferences in 2011 and 2012, alongside the presentations themselves there will be a number of other special events on the side.
This is not the only major Bitcoin-related event to watch out for this year. From June 17 to June 23, the Free State Project in New Hampshire will be hosting PorcFest, an annual event dedicated to various aspects of libertarian philosophy. The event includes a marketplace called Agora Valley, and in 2012 one Bitcoin user noted that over 80 of the merchants were accepting Bitcoin. Given how much Bitcoin has grown since then, we can expect Bitcoin to have an even larger presence in the event this time around. In July, the tech and business side of Bitcoin will get MediaBistro’s Inside Bitcoin conference on July 30 in New York, with BitInstant’s Charlie Shrem as the featured speaker. Important financial entrepreneurs and investors like ZipZap’s Alan Safahi and Knight Capital’s Abelardo Mendez will also be present. In November, the unSYSTEM conference will take place in Vienna, focusing on the ideological side of Bitcoin as well as activism in general. Speakers include Occupy London, Juice Rap News, Max Keiser, Defense Distributed‘s Cody Wilson, Berlin Bitcoin community organizer and restaurant owner Joerg Platzer and many more technological, artistic and political activists. Depending on their interests, Bitcoin enthusiasts may well consider attending one or more of these conferences in addition to (or perhaps in place of, in case of limited time or budget) this one.
The conference costs $300 to register ($350 at the door), a price which may seem steep, but one should bear in mind that most people attending the conference will be coming in by plane and therefore paying much more for airport and hotel expenses anyway. The difference between paying $1030 for a $30 conference and $1300 for a $300 conference is not all that much. The full schedule for the conference can be found here; the following is a list of some of the more interesting parts of the conference to watch out for.
- The Tech and Mining Track – one of the three sets of presentations to take place throughout the conference will focus on Bitcoin mining and technology. This section will largely feature generic discussions on various topics surrounding Bitcoin technology, including a “State of the Union” address by Gavin Andresen, ease of use, security, mining pool rewards and electricity, although it will also have more targeted discussions on the topics of alternate cryptocurrencies, hierarchical deterministic wallets and Trezor, the Bitcoin USB Wallet.
- The Business Track – for those already working with Bitcoin in their businesses or interested in doing so, this is the place to be. Presentations include Roger Ver’s “Bitcoin 101 for Business”, fraud prevention, overcoming the challenges of accepting Bitcoin, driving Bitcoin adoption, investing in Bitcoin businesses, international business and nonprofits, as well as several discussions on the interaction between Bitcoin and the existing financial system from speakers like Bitcoin Central’s Pierre Noizat and BitInstant’s Charlie Shrem.
- The Economic and Regulatory Track – this track is a bit of a strange merger, combining what may be some of the ideological discussion about Bitcoin to formally take place in the conference with the most pragmatic. Half of the topics are about how Bitcoin can radically change aspects of the current “system”, and the other half are about how Bitcoin can interact with it. On the “economics” side, the topics include “Will Bitcoin Change the Payments Landscape?”, “The Role of Bitcoin As Money”, “Economics of Bitcoin”, a presentation by Blueseed and “The Future of Panhandling” by Sean’s Outpost’s Jason King. On the regulatory side, the three presentations are on the legal classification of Bitcoin, issues of regulatory compliance, and financial privacy and law enforcement.
- Exhibitions – throughout the conference, as well as on the Friday before it, Bitcoin businesses will be holding exhibitions, and many will be using the opportunity to make announcements or unveil new products or features. Zach Harvey’s Bitcoin ATM (as opposed to the one connected with Jeff Berwick), for example, will be using the conference to make its first public launch. The full list of exhibitors can be found here.
- The Hackathon – there have been Bitcoin-themed hackathons before, but the one that will take place alongside the Bitcoin conference is particularly interesting since it will be judged by actual Bitcoin business owners and investors: Brian Armstrong, Adam Draper, Alex Ferrera, Jeremy Liew and Tihan Seale.
Above all, the conference gives attendees a chance to meet and interact with fellow Bitcoiners from around the world. This includes many of the key figures in the Bitcoin community, including Bitcoin business owners, developers and investors, as well as ordinary enthusiasts from all around the world. If you are interested in getting involved with a Bitcoin project, whether a business, an open source software project or a charity, this will be a great opportunity to meet and talk to people that might be interested in having you onboard. Those who are unable to attend the conference will be able to watch all of the presentations on video, and Bitcoin Magazine will be releasing exclusive content from the conference in both our web and print editions. If you will be attending, enjoy the conference!