World Leaders Warmed to Blockchain at Davos This Year, Despite Crypto Winter

Crypto advertising has dropped at Davos in 2023, but discussions and panels from industry leaders are in full swing.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2023 at 10:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 20, 2023 at 6:32 p.m. UTC

Hey folks. I’m in Davos, Switzerland, through the rest of this week covering the World Economic Forum’s annual conference and the crypto panels held adjacent to the main event. Feel free to reach out on Telegram if you’re here.

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Crypto winter

The narrative

The World Economic Forum is holding its latest annual meeting in snowy Davos, Switzerland, back in its normal time slot after a few years of coronavirus pandemic chaos. And just like last year, the 2023 conference features its share of crypto companies and mini conferences.

Why it matters

Crypto being here isn’t really a surprise. What is a surprise is just how the industry almost seems to be doubling down on its presence, holding as many panels and conferences as it did last year. While there are signs of the bear market – there aren’t nearly as many ads or crypto houses – those who are here are here in force.

Breaking it down

Crypto’s presence is less conspicuous in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2023 than it was in May 2022. That’s understandable. May 2022 was before the dark times. Before the bankruptcies and collapses and discovery that perhaps every company just lending the same pile of cryptos to each other may have been a bad thing.

Despite all that, the industry representatives are here in force. Multiple companies and groups are holding their own mini-conferences alongside the main WEF sessions. It’s at the point where, even though I’m here with my colleagues Sandali Handagama and Jack Schickler, there aren’t nearly enough of us to actually cover the different panels.

The groups that are here – the Global Blockchain Business Consortium, Casper Labs, Circle, the Filecoin Foundation, 1inch – are varying their offerings as well. United Nations representatives, Commodity Futures Trading Commission officials and lawmakers from different countries are all here for the crypto conferences.

It’s a far cry from your usual crypto leaders and startup founders (not that they’re not also present, just that it makes for a bit of a change).

I already wrote at length about how crypto has been represented at Davos in this CoinDesk article here, so I’m just going to refer you to that article.

However, to conclude today’s edition, I’m going to just throw down some thoughts and comments, which didn’t make it into the main article:This is apparently the first year a winter lake by Davos didn’t freeze over. It’s also surprisingly warm here so far, compared to what it should feel like. This isn’t a crypto comment, but given we live on this planet it seems worth noting.

  • There are some seriously interesting panels happening. What’s really surprised me is the fact that there are so many government and international agency officials speaking at the crypto-specific events.
  • Some 2,700 world leaders and their staffs are supposed to be in attendance, according to a WEF press release.
  • I’ve sat in on a number of discussions so far. FTX has obviously come up a number of times but panels are seemingly trying to move past it to address other aspects of the industry at present.
  • I moderated a panel for 1inch wherein we came close to the conclusion that the cryptocurrency industry is driving the growing dollarization of the world. I want to revisit this more in depth at a future date.
  • You can read Sandali and Jack’s day two wrap-up here.

One in three

That’s how many members of Congress received money from an FTX executive by way of direct donations. CoinDesk’s Jesse Hamilton, Cheyenne Ligon and Elizabeth Napolitano identified 196 sitting Senators and Representatives who received donations, reaching out to all 196. Just over 50 responded, explaining what they were doing with the funds.

The donations may be subject to clawbacks, even if the lawmakers who received the funds chose to donate them to charity or elsewhere.

This is an excellent investigation that is well worth your time.

Biden’s rule

Changing of the guard

SoC 12302022


Outside CoinDesk:

  • (The Washington Post) The Post notes that the crypto industry’s presence in Davos is focused – at least in part – on rehabilitating its image post-FTX.

If you’ve got thoughts or questions on what I should discuss next week or any other feedback you’d like to share, feel free to email me at or find me on Twitter @nikhileshde.

You can also join the group conversation on Telegram.

See ya’ll next week!


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.