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Most blockchain advocates haven’t even used Bitcoin

Bitcoin, the original blockchain, struggles to gain traction among blockchain advocates; an opinion from one of Europe's largest blockchain conferences.

Bitcoin (BTC) popularised the term blockchain. Blockchains, or “decentralized and distributed digital ledgers used to record transactions across a network of computers,” have been around for over thirty years, the household name for a blockchain is Bitcoin. 

That’s despite the fact that the Genesis block was mined well over 14 years ago when George W. Bush was president and “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas topped the charts–Bitcoin is still top of the blocks.

It’s to be expected, then, that most blockchain advocates would have used, understood or a the very least experimented with Bitcoin.

Nope. Not so.

Speaking with Victoria Gago, co-founder of the European Blockchain Conference. Source: José Val Bal

Here’s an example. While MC’ing at the European Blockchain Conference in February, I asked the audience for a show of hands. I inquired of the circa 250 blockchain believers sitting in front of me:

"Who here has used Bitcoin?"

Maybe 20 audience hands shot up. “Okay. Keep your hand up if you’ve used Bitcoin’s Lightning Network,” I said. The Lightning Network or (LN) is the payments network built on top of Bitcoin which allows near-instant, near-free transactions. Over half those hands went down.

One data sample is insufficient. So, the following day I quizzed the audience on stage. I was surprised to receive the same result. Four-fifths of the blockchain conference audience had never used Bitcoin.

Why is that? Why is it that so few people have touched arguably the only blockchain that solves what is known as the “scalability trilemma;” that of decentralization, security and scalability?

The Bitcoin blockchain, or timechain as Satoshi Nakamoto called it in the white paper, is still relatively small. Anyone with an old laptop can download the entirety of all transactions in order to run a node; the network can scale to reach millions and soon billions of people with layers, while the Bitcoin blockchain has never been hacked. And yet at the blockchain conference, very few attendees run nodes or have transacted on Bitcoin.

However, there are not enough data points to yet form this conclusion. I wanted to quiz individuals across the conference if they were blockchainers or Bitcoiners–and if so, why is that the case?

I quizzed conference-goers about a simple question. I asked around 15 conference goers to choose Web3 or Web5, and only one person of the fifteen chose Web5. Ironically, the sole Web5 proponent in the interview is Bitcoiner Antonia Roupell, whose job title is “Web3 lead” for Save the Children.

Most respondents looked confused when presented with the choice of webs. “What is Web5?” They queried.

Web3 is a world of reportedly decentralized blockchains in which tokens (and token sales) drive the economy forward; Web5 is the decentralized internet built on Bitcoin. Naturally, Bitcoin maximalist Jack Dorsey champions Web5. 

Dorsey explained in December 2021 that Web5 will allow true ownership of identity and data, unlike Web3. Dorsey explains that “Web3" has the “Same corporate incentives [as Twitter] but hides it under "decentralization.”

The Twitter founder reckons Web3 will never achieve true decentralization as underneath the marketing spiel and tokenomics it’s the venture capitalists and limited Partners who own the blockchains and the data underpinning the systems.

Web5 already boasts social media applications such as Zion in which users can easily send Bitcoin to one another and own their data, built atop one decentralized blockchain and. Which blockchain? You guessed it, Bitcoin. 

Source: areweweb5yet.com

Web3 has existed since Ethereum coder Gavin Wood coined the term in 2014 and thus has more time on its side. Plus it’s a catchy, catch-all term that is often used interchangeably with blockchain, crypto and metaverse. It’s hard to define, underline or frame without referring to financially lucrative projects. 

It finally struck me that the focus of most attendees at the European Blockchain Convention was business over Bitcoin. Or to put it another way–and to attempt to be a little less naive–the attendees wanted to make money over work towards a new monetary policy.

Moderating a panel on Web3 during the conference. Source: José Val Bal

I had the same experience when discussing Nostr, which stands for Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays. The relatively new, decentralized network enables private messaging and uncensorable communication–among other projects. 

One of the applications of Nostr, called iPhone app Damus, helped Nostr reach nearly half a million daily users in mid-February. User count multiplied by 5 since its listing on the Apple iOS store and the protocol is full of Bitcoin advocates.

I asked conference attendees for their public key so I could follow them on Nostr. I was met with bemused looks. The blockchain believers and champions of decentralized protocols had not tested nor heard of Damus.

Nostr explained by nostr.com

Do you want one more example?

An employee at a popular Bitcoin company–who I won’t dox in this opinion piece–approached me during the conference. “I saw you sending sats to people on stage. You sound like a [Bitcoin] maxi,” he joked. 

“Guilty, officer” I joked. I only hold Bitcoin and am passionate about bringing Bitcoin to the world, especially those living in financially kneecapped countries.

“You would probably recognize the company I represent then. I work for Blockstream.”

Of course! I told him. I actually played Jenga in the park with Blockstream’s CEO, Adam Back, recently. We immediately bonded.

Related: Regulation stole the show at Barcelona’s European Blockchain Convention

The Blockstream employee confided in me that not a single conferencegoer had clocked his employer. Blockstream is a well-known Bitcoin companies. Blockstream pioneers lightning adoption, side chains, affordable hardware wallets and liquid, while Back was one of the few names mentioned in the Bitcoin white paper published in 2008.

He shared his surprise with me, but it was 5pm on the last day of the conference–by this point I understood. “It’s a Bitcoin company, mate” I explained. And after all, “Bitcoin and blockchain don’t really mix.” Bitcoin has a marketing problem, I said.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Regulation stole the show at Barcelona’s European Blockchain Convention

Across numerous panels, fireside chats and on stage discussions the word regulation rang out at Barcelona's 4th European Blockchain Convention.

Some 2,500 crypto-curious blockchain believers descended on Barcelona’s Hyatt Tower conference suites last week in a networking bonanza. The 8th edition of the European Blockchain Convention, and the fourth occurrence in Barcelona, also coincided with Bitcoin (BTC) sitting tight below $25,000.

Despite an over 60% crypto drawdown, the conference was packed, and reportedly 2,500 attendees from banks, blockchain companies and crypto drank in the sights and sounds of the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. Nonetheless, the crypto scars of 2022 are still tender and raw; many attendees raised real concerns about regulation and rules. 

Cointelegraph's Hall speaks to EBC cofounder Victoria Gago. Source: José Val Bal

Among the clarion calls for regulation were bankers from major European institutions: Santander, HSBC and Société Générale shared stages and rubbed shoulders with crypto natives and blockchain maximalists.

However, contrary to expectation, it was the crypto-native camp that was quick to recognize the issues of 2022 and who was first to call for clearer instruction from regulators.

Stef Wynendaele, a crypto native who heads up commercial strategy for KeyRock, told Cointelegraph that he’s “wildly in love with Bitcoin,” and that “questioning the establishment” is an important tenet to crypto. That said, a collaborative environment between institutions and disruptors may be the most productive path forward:

“Everybody says, ‘We don't want to talk with the banks, we don't want to know what they're doing, etc.’ But they've actually been around for 300 or 400 years. They have a lot of experience on how to do things actually, or how not to do things.”

In such an environment, Wynendaele explains it’s no longer a question of “us vs. them,” i.e., crypto vs incumbents, especially as the market will eventually decide the best outcome.

Patrick Heusser, the chief commercial officer at Crypto Finance, echoed his comments. He told Cointelgraph: “I would say it's not everything that’s been done in traditional finance is wrong. Regulation is not always wrong.”

Heusser during one of the panels at EBC. Source: José Val Bal

Cathy We, Investment Associate at NGC Ventures, offered a contrarian view on regulation, at least for the short term. She told Cointelegraph that “The type of scrutiny we're seeing in the market from regulators is something that obviously is not good to see in this bear market in the short term.”

Cointelegraph's Yana Prikhodchenko introduces the CT acceleration award. Source: José Val Bal

“In the long term, it will actually create such a much better environment for everybody, for liquidity, for a lot of the new ideas to form safely and for talent, she added”

“You want your best talent to work in a very compliant environment, so they don't get caught and get go to jail or any of that. So I think I think regulation was the long term is going to be super helpful.”

Indeed light of a bear market in which the likes of FTX, Luna, Celsius and BlockFi blackened the crypto industry’s reputation, John Murillo, who spent decades in traditional finance, summed up the industry’s needs succinctly:

“Regulation brings transparency. Transparency ultimately brings credibility, and credibility is what everyone is seeking for.”

While regulation was the mot du jour, innovation and disruption to the traditional finance space were excitedly spoken about.

Related: Market makers in the crypto industry: party planners or bartenders?

A new phrase was coined during the conference, “recycle to earn.” The phrase is blockchain company Circularr’s slogan, which participated and then won the CT accelerator prize.

Circularr took home the prize worth $35,000. Pictured Daniel Salmeron (EBC), Eric Vogel (Circularr), Victoria Gago (EBV) and Prikhodchenko. Photo: José Val Bal

Circularr is a blockchain-based recycling pioneer who hopes to bring trust back to recycling. The team won a $35,000 value grant courtesy of Cointelegraph following a slick one-minute pitch on stage during the start-up pitch competition. The startup pitch brought the conference to a climax and reminded the audience of the Web3 industry’s roots, that of disruption, innovation and ownership.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Socios.com Will Invest $100 Million in FC Barcelona Metaverse Push

Socios.com Will Invest 0 Million in FC Barcelona Metaverse PushSocios.com, a company dedicated to the development of fan engagement tokens for sports organizations, has revealed that it will invest $100 million in the digital business of soccer team FC Barcelona, Barca Studios. The investment will give Socios.com 24.5% of the stake in the digital division of the club and will allow it to reshape […]

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Catalonia is building its own metaverse, says innovation minister

The government is hoping to make Barcelona a digital hub by offering various skills programs to university students and boot camps to cultivate talent.

Catalonian director-general of innovation Daniel Macro discussed some of the key efforts that the government has taken and worked on to make the region a digital hub in an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph’s managing editor Alex Cohen. Macro’s comments came during the European Blockchain Convention (EBC) 2022.

Macro said the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years has really helped in propagating the idea of the digital economy, which is a part of the main economy. He went on to cite the example of Europe which has moved to digitize the energy deal and several other digital deals.

Related: Meta set to begin testing NFTs on Instagram Stories with Spark AR

Macro took the charge as the director of the SmartCatalonia Government Strategy in 2014, overseeing the initiative to make Catalonia a "Smart Country" of note on the global stage. And with the advent of blockchain technology and metaverse, the minister is working towards creating a fully digital economy inspired by the physical world.

He revealed that the government is working towards building a Catalonian metaverse called Cataverse. He explained:

“Cataverse will be linked to the Catalan language and the Catalan culture. That is what we want to have in this metaverse, that Catalan entities that are doing things for the culture can do that in the metaverse .”

The Catalonian Innovation minister went on to shed light on the government's plans to make Barcelona the digital hub. He said a lot would depend on the talent and the government has passed several policies and university programs to cultivate that talent among the young. He said:

“We have very strong policies to generate talent that are from university but also we are skilling programs like boot camps and other activities a lot because we need different profiles.”

He added that the government is trying to get the mix of both i.e. cultivate new talent and attract more business with a friendly working environment.

The minister when asked about blockchain projects that tourists can interact with in Barcelona, cited the example of a project focused on personal healthcare and a few others based on public transport.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

FC Barcelona and AS Roma fan tokens rally after Socios partners with UEFA

ASR, BAR and ACM posted double-digit rallies after the Socios fan token platform partnered with UEFA to bring NFTs and other redeemable perks to European football fans.

Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) continue to see increased utilization as the possible applications of the technology have begun to be recognized in sectors ranging from sports entertainment to real estate.

One subsector of this market that has seen a spike in momentum on Feb. 28 are fan token projects, protocols that allow their holders to participate in the governance of their favorite sports brands and receive specialized NFTs and other unique redeemables.

Top 7 coins with the highest 24-hour price change. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView shows that the three biggest gainers over the past 24-hours were FC Barcelona Fan Token (BAR), AS Roma Fan Token (ASR) and Atletico De Madrid Fan Token (ATM), which are all fan tokens that are part of the Chilliz (CHZ) protocol.

Three reasons for the spike in the price of these fan tokens include a partnership between Socios and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the increased attention on football as World Cup qualifying matches are ongoing and the popularity of NFTs being combined with the most-watched sport on the planet.

Partnership with UEFA

A recently announced partnership between UEFA, the governing body for European football, and Socios, a protocol that focuses on the creation of fan tokens, could be one driver of the current rally.

The partnership is currently contracted through 2024 and establishes Socios as the regional sponsor for the Champions League, which is the most well-known competition held by the UEFA.

Through this collaboration, Fan Tokens will be made available for free to Fan Token holders of clubs participating in the Champions League as well as the Europa League and the Europa Conference League.

Club fans who hold Fan Tokens have the opportunity to win VIP experiences or free NFTs that drop during live gameplay as long as they are holding their tokens on the Socios app.

Ongoing competitions

A second reason for the strength seen in multiple Fan Tokens is the ramping up of football season and the building excitement for the World Cup which is scheduled to start on November 21, 2022.

The football season typically runs from August through May, meaning that the season is three-quarters of the way complete with teams and their fans now looking towards any possible championship matches.

Excitement for football is also on the rise as qualifier matches for the World Cup are currently ongoing ahead of World Cup 2022 which is scheduled to take place in Qatar from Nov. 21 to Dec. 17.

Football is the most popular sport on the planet which makes it ideal for the application of Fan Token technology to better engage with fans and offer a new era of sports memorabilia.

Related: Penalties and extra time: The scoreboard for soccer club crypto deals

The rising popularity of NFTs

A third factor helping boost Fan Tokens has been the overall popularity of NFTs, which continue to gain traction on a mainstream level as new use cases arise.

Sports collectibles have long been a hallmark of various sectors of the market ranging from cards to in-game equipment signed by the players who used them.

As digital technology continues to integrate into all facets of daily life, it is now making its mark on the collectible world through the creation of one-of-a-kind digital items that are stored on the blockchain.

With Fan Tokens, holders can now receive NFTs created in real-time during live matches and in extremely limited quantity, providing a never-before-seen level of rarity in sports memorabilia recorded on a blockchain.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Penalties and extra time: The scoreboard for soccer club crypto deals

Despite Turkish government regulations having hamstrung Bitci’s soccer sponsorship deals, footballing crypto companies already have home-field advantage.

The world’s most popular sport suffered an own-goal as European clubs canceled their partnerships with Bitci, a Turkish crypto exchange. However, plenty of substitute crypto companies are on the bench, ready to bring crypto to the mainstream through soccer.

Growing yet unclear cryptocurrency regulations in Turkey have reportedly hampered the company’s ability to make payments, leading to a lack of confidence among major soccer clubs.

Portugal’s Sporting CP — the green-and-white-striped footballers famed for being the club where Cristiano Ronaldo cut his teeth — and Italian Serie A club Spezia have also canceled their partnership with Bitci. The F1 powerhouse Mclaren Racing terminated its sponsorship deal with Bitci earlier in February.

Barcelona also recently announced that it would favor a partnership deal with Binance over Spotify despite the launch of its fan token in April 2021.

While it would appear that crypto and soccer partnerships are down to 10 players, deals, enthusiasm and sponsorships for crypto among football clubs are an open goal.

Of England’s 20 football clubs, 17 have at least one deal with a cryptocurrency firm. For Watford soccer club, not only does Dogecoin (DOGE) appear on the shirtsleeve, but Stake.com sponsors the main body of the shirt.

Dogecoin and Stake.com on Watford FC football shirt. Source: DW

Eighty miles Southeast of Watford, in Southampton, “the Saints,” as they are known locally, launched a Bitcoin (BTC) hunt on Wednesday. In partnerships with crypto betting site Sportsbet.io, the online quiz winner takes home a whole BTC.

Still in England, Bitcoin podcaster Peter McCormack sparked the beginnings of an English underdog story as he bought his local club Bedford FC. He’s keen to take on the Premier League with the help of Bitcoin and its community. 

While Crypto.com recently renamed the American football stadium in Los Angeles from the Staples Center to the Crypto.com arena, in Italy, the entire football league is sponsored by the cryptocurrency giant.

Elsewhere, fan tokens are also growing in popularity among European football fans. As Cointelegraph reported, blockchain sports firm Chiliz has caught the eye of major football clubs, while the Socios platform announced a deal with UEFA.

The Inter Milan fan token appearing on the shirt. Source: Inter.it

Related: Touchdown! Goal! Knockout! Crypto and sports collide in 2021

While a crypto sponsor for a European national team may have to wait until next season, the Argentine team was the first national soccer club worldwide to take on a crypto sponsor. Binance recently partnered with the white and sky blues. 

Finally, as European soccer waits for a national team to be sponsored by crypto, in rugby football, the Bitpanda crypto exchange now sponsors the Azurri. The exchange made the announcement ahead of Italy’s clash with the Six Nations rugby teams in January.

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

FC Barcelona, Man City canceled crypto deals show cash is not everything

The sports industry should heed the warning signs as they adopt emerging blockchain technologies such as NFTs, experts warn.

The sports industry took a hard hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Most leagues got suspended, and then teams played without the audience for an extended period. Sports clubs started to seek out new revenue streams, and the crypto industry arrived to aid with juicy deals. 

Numerous partnerships between major sports clubs grabbed headlines over the last year. Even national teams and major club unions joined the trend. So, it became even more surprising when FC Barcelona and Manchester City, two of the biggest soccer clubs in Europe, terminated their crypto-related sponsorship deals in the same week.

FC Barcelona canceled its partnership with nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace Ownix following the arrest of Moshe Hogeg, an Israeli crypto entrepreneur who was among the company’s consultants. Ownix was quick to deny any organic link to Hogeg in a Twitter flood. Cointelegraph reached out to Ownix but the company declined to comment further on the issue.

Manchester City also suspended its deal with 3Key, which the club has announced as a regional partner in “decentralized finance trading analysis and advisory technology” just a week earlier.

Related: FTX buys Super Bowl ad slot to promote crypto to a TV audience of 92M

The sports industry is eager to join the NFT hype, which Morgan Stanley predicts to become a twelve-digits market by 2030. Timothy Mangnall, who helps sports clubs better understand crypto and the NFT world through his NFT agency Capital Block, told Cointelegraph that it is easy for clubs to forget to do the basic due diligence on companies and professional backgrounds before jumping into long-term commercial deals.

Barcelona had been approached by a number of NFT marketplaces in the months leading up to the announcement of the deal with Ownix. Many of the contenders already had strong track records in the NFT space, yet Barcelona chose to go with a rather unknown brand in this space, Mangnall explained:

“What this shows me is that is Barcelona solely looked at the money on the table rather than doing what they would do for every other sponsorship agreement which is proper due diligence.”

The crypto market is full of small NFT firms who are ready to dash out ten times more money than major exchanges just to score big deals with sports clubs, he added, warning that this should be a red flag for any club, who should then double down on its internal review process and deep dive into the company and the owners.

Related: Staples Center in Los Angeles will be renamed Crypto.com Arena

Tokenization is a product of blockchain technology that attracts huge companies with massive brand values and fan bases, adds Ahmet Usta, co-author of Blockchain 101 and co-founder of Avaxtars and Crypto Mandala NFT projects: “Clubs are naturally aiming to get high returns from fan tokens and NFTs as early adopters. However, they should focus on adding value with innovation and solid business models to their token and NFT offerings.”

NFTs are not going anywhere and will be part of our future, Timothy Mangnall summarized, adding that “clubs should not be scared to miss out on the hype at the moment, but take a step back to understand the sector and plan for the next 3 years minimum.”

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say

Soccer Superstar Lionel Messi Gets Part of His Contract Paid in Cryptocurrency

Soccer Superstar Lionel Messi Gets Part of His Contract Paid in CryptocurrencyLionel Messi, the Argentinian soccer superstar, has opted to receive cryptocurrency as part of his new contract signed with the French club Paris Saint-Germain. The club revealed that the player will receive crypto as part of his $30 million payment, as a “welcome package” given to the player. The proportion of the crypto stash in […]

‘Surgical removal’ of crypto will only weaken USD dominance, commentators say