When it comes to a gathering of the U.S. cryptocurrency community — including startup CEOs, big investors, enthusiasts and young pioneers — it doesn’t get much bigger than the North American Bitcoin Conference set for Miami Beach this weekend.
The numerous sponsors and exhibitors make up much of the fast-growing U.S. bitcoin ecosystem.
The timing for the event, which should attract more than 500 participants, couldn’t be much better. This year, U.S. regulators of financial products and the banking system are faced with the uncertain ramifications of bitcoin’s surging popularity as a tool of speculators, investors and businesses.
The conference website says the event will provide “workshops targeted at merchants, and act as a forum for vendors, exhibitors, and recent bitcoin startups to share their latest innovations and inform discussions.”
In addition, organizers say that regulators, banks and government officials will lead panel discussions “that are light on fluff and heavy on content.”
Among the speakers are Charlie Lee, probably best known as the creator of litecoin, the most popular bitcoin derivative. He is also part of the executive team at Coinbase, the biggest Silicon Valley rising star among dozens of bitcoin-related U.S. ventures. Coinbase offers a bitcoin wallet, buying and selling of the virtual currency and a mechanism for merchants to accept bitcoins as payments.
Noted bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem will also make an appearance. He is co-founder and CEO of BitInstant, and currently Vice Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation.
BitPay CEO Tony Gallippi will be on hand as well. A bitcoin payment service provider, BitPay is the premier sponsor of the event. BitPay recently announced a beta release of their payroll API, which allows employers to give their W-2 workers a portion of their net pay in the virtual currency.
And there’s speaker Roger Ver, who is one of many investors that have struck it big with bitcoin. CNBC profiled the 34-year-old Ver last year. He began investing in bitcoins in early 2011, and made his first million from bitcoins that same year — when prices soared from about $0.30 to $32 before settling at $2. He bought his first bitcoins at around $1.
Bitcoin is valued at over $800-$900 today on most exchanges.