UPDATE (30th June 20:30 BST): OKCoin CEO Star Xu has since cancelled his scheduled appearance at the conference. Speaking in his place will be OKCoin CTO Changpeng Zhao.


north american bitcoin conference, chicago

The North American Bitcoin Conference is set for its Chicago debut on 19th and 20th July, bringing a host of regular event speakers, including BitPay senior software engineer Jeff Garzik, litecoin founder Charlie Lee and venture capitalist Roger Ver to the famed ‘Windy City’.

Most notable among the speaker selections, perhaps, may be the addition of two prominent international community members – OKCoin CEO Star Xu and Huobi CEO Leon Li – who will be making their US conference debuts.

Even with these big names in attendance, however, event organiser Moe Levin believes that what will ultimately set the next North American Bitcoin Conference apart from other industry gatherings is its emphasis on community.

He told CoinDesk:

“It’s a community-driven effort. There’s other conferences that cost a lot of money and are exclusive events. [The North American Bitcoin Conference] goes back to what bitcoin used to be, the community, and we like to stress that.”

To Levin, this means both educating and entertaining attendees, and the indications are that he intends to accomplish both in Chicago. Levin noted that the conference’s kickoff party will be held at the House of Blues Chicago, a popular local concert venue.

Billed as the ‘second annual’ North American Bitcoin Conference, the event follows the franchise’s Miami conference earlier this year. That event saw the debut of as-yet unreleased cryptocurrency platform Ethereum, among other highlights.

Asian influence

When addressing the announcement of notable Chinese community members Li and Xu, Levin was also quick to stress how these speakers represent the event’s focus on catering to the broader bitcoin ecosystem.

Levin said that he believes US companies can learn from the two exchange CEOs, particularly because they’ve faced some of the more severe operational difficulties seen globally, and persevered:

“It’s important to learn from every single person that’s been trying to make it in this space, and one of the hardest countries to make it in is China. […] The lessons learned by Huobi and OKCoin can inform future decisions of every US company, and it will be a real asset to have them at the North American Bitcoin Conference.”

Major Chinese exchange leaders have overcome a litany of difficulties this year, owing to the decision by the People’s Bank of China to more strictly enforce past rulings that aim to separate bitcoin businesses from the traditional financial system.

This pressure resulted in major exchanges, including Huobi, losing key banking partnerships, events that had global impact on the price of bitcoin.

Hot topics

Given the scheduling of the event, Levin said that he expects the US government’s sale of 30,000 BTC confiscated from now-defunct online black market Silk Road to be just one of the talking points that will be addressed by attendees.

However, Levin believes that the broader regulatory implications of bitcoin, as well as the ecosystem’s increasing maturity, will also come into focus at the event.

“Generally, we’re getting more mature as a community, so we’re going to be talking about best practices,” Levin said. “Many companies are doing a similar thing, so we can look at this. We can start a dialogue about how we’re going to move forward together.”

Although the North American Bitcoin Conference has released a preliminary agenda, topics have not yet been finalized. Levin, however, indicated that whatever is discussed, these conversations will be front and center in how the event is run – in a manner similar to the popular TED Talks series. He said:

“We’re not turning somebody off and saying ‘next speaker’. Speakers are available to talk throughout.”

Building on success

Of course, Levin also suggested that the North American Bitcoin Conference will seek to expand bitcoin’s community through attractions that cater to those who may just be learning about the technology.

Levin says the event will play host to a ‘Bitcoin for Beginners’ workshop that he expects to draw as many as 400-500 new community members from the Chicago public.

As for the event itself, Levin suggested that those who are interested in attending should act fast. He noted that the event’s official partner hotel, The Hotel Chicago, is now fully booked, a milestone that brings both feelings of accomplishment and new challenges.

Levin added: “We’re looking for another hotel now. I have to put out an email saying, ‘Sorry guys, we sold out of the hotel in a few hours.’ I guess it’s a good problem to have.”

For more details on the conference, visit the official event website.

Image via North American Bitcoin Conference

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