Bitcoin made its presence known at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week in the face of heightened speculation about recent controversies in the industry.
In the days leading up to one of the most high-profile conventions in the tech industry, bitcoin's price fell below $300 and one of the digital currency's biggest exchanges, Bitstamp, suffered a security breach that resulted in the theft of some 19,000 BTC.
Nonetheless, a number of seemingly undaunted crypto companies came together at CES, and bitcoin commanded attention from attendees consistently over the four-day span of the event.
The 'World of Bitcoin'
Bitcoin was only one of a vast number of technologies that were represented at CES, but thanks to an initiative organized by BitPay, several companies in the industry came together – literally – to ensure that the digital currency couldn't be missed.
The 'World of Bitcoin' exhibit was built as a central location for a number of bitcoin startups to showcase their products and services, and from the looks of it, bitcoin's home base at CES attracted considerable attention:
— BitPay (@BitPay) January 6, 2015
Though the World of Bitcoin served as a central point for companies in the space, other digital currency startups like HyprKey and Gliph showcased their offerings elsewhere on the exhibit floor.
A bevy of launches
As startups like to do at high-profile conferences, a number of bitcoin companies launched new products and made big announcements this week at CES.
Among these launches were Copay's new multisig wallet app for the Windows Phone platform, Gliph's new Craigslist-like peer-to-peer marketplace and HyprKey's pre-order and demo of its fingerprint-scanning bitcoin wallet.
In addition to the 'purebred' bitcoin startups, big-name tech companies also helped boost bitcoin and blockchain technology's visibility at CES this week – particularly in the form of IBM releasing the draft of its white paper on blockchain technology and its potential use in the Internet of Things.
IBM also kept up its budding romance with the cryptocurrency industry by posing for a picture with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin:
— Paul Brody (@pbrody) January 9, 2015
An elephant in the room
Despite the camaraderie among bitcoin companies and the string of new product launches, it seemed as though the shadow of recent happenings in the bitcoin industry was cast on those in attendance at the show.
Just days before CES kicked off in Vegas this week, one of the biggest bitcoin exhibitors scheduled to attend the convention – Bitstamp – suffered a hack of its hot wallet that resulted in the theft of nearly $5m worth of bitcoin, the temporary closing of its business, and murmurs both within and outside of the industry of a possible repeat of the Mt Gox catastrophe.
As a result of the theft, Bitstamp pulled out of its scheduled appearance at CES, leaving its booth empty over the course of the four-day event.
Was sorry to miss interacting at CES this week. Our team is all hands on deck focused on the immediate needs of redeploying our site.
— Nejc Kodrič (@nejc_kodric) January 8, 2015
Also adding fuel to the bitcoin skeptics' fire was bitcoin's falling price. After seeing its value drop more than 54% in 2014, bitcoin's price fell below $300 in the days leading up to the consumer electronics show.
The bitcoin industry, though, seems determined to weather through the storm of speculation, misfortune and uncertainty.
Bitstamp is already back up and running, money keeps flowing into efforts that bolster the industry's infrastructure, and the bitcoin companies on showcase at CES this week did their best to show that bitcoin is something bigger than its market volatility or a scandal or two in the space.
Image via The Verge