Tuesday, 31 Jan 2023

Inside Bitcoins Berlin Day Two Recap

BERLIN (InsideBitcoins) — The second day of any Inside Bitcoins conference is always a very different affair from the first. Strangers who became acquaintances on day one always seem to have become friends. After the obligatory social gatherings the night before, cliques have formed, partnerships made. It’s impossible to quantify how much business has taken place in the past 24 hours, but bleary eyes and the occasional yawns are not the signs of usual late night conference malingering; fun was had, but it was focused fun, futures are being made here.

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Deep thoughts on the economics of bitcoin

Brian Fabian Crain opens things up with a discussion on the economics of bitcoin and his commentary manages to raise more than a few eyebrows. As is so often the case, it is the bigger picture that is more difficult to see. So close to bitcoin, the macroeconomic realities seem distant and confusing. Crain brings things into sharp focus; pragmatism is the order of the day, economic realpolitik synthesized into concise rhetoric Food for thought indeed. The supply of coffee is, thankfully, inexhaustible and remains a requirement in order that the business of the day continues smoothly; coffee runs take place during those shuffling of paper moments between speakers.

Regulatory discussions

More is on offer. Schedules are always eclectic at these things, but the pace at Berlin seems more frantic. Panel discussions are dominated by the merchant economy and the desire for prosecutors to take on bitcoin because of the headlines it generates. Regulation is changeable, from state to state in the US and even more so across Europe. The need for unity and clarity is paramount; small companies are unable to navigate the inherent complexity such fragmentation entails; that’s where they get into trouble. The fog is quickly dispersed as experts such as Marco Santori and Brian Klein help navigate attendants through compliance, regulation and beyond. Predictions are made and contingency plans unveiled. The discussions circle topics like birds of prey on the hunt and always return to one salient point; multisig, it would seem, is the solution to more than one of bitcoin’s nascent failings.

Improving bitcoin security

Eric Lombrozo, CEO of Ciphrex, takes us through the industry’s other bugbear — the need for security. Security it would seem is not about keeping the bad guys out, it’s about management of risk. An ongoing process, security failures begin with yourself. Losing a private key is not like losing a bank card; such a loss is frustrating, but a replacement is only a phone call away. With the private key gone, the bitcoin too is lost, forever. Equipment failure, malicious TOR exit nodes, and internal risks ride high amongst other potential pitfalls. With the number of possible bitcoin addresses being one of those impossible long numbers that only specialists know how to pronounce, it’s hard to believe that security is ever an issue. Yet, it clearly is. The advent of hardware random number generators — Intel have started to build them into their chips – adds another level of security to the mix. The shadow of Mt. Gox looms large in Berlin today. And then there’s multisig, multisig, and yet more discussion on multisig.

The conference comes to a close

Stomachs rumble, and chairs shift and scrape. The food is no longer an unknown quantity; it’s excellent, and attendants crowd out of the hall to enjoy today’s fare, mingle, and brainstorm.

As the conference enters its final phase, we boldly go where no coin has gone before. Spacebit CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk’s ambition is literally stratospheric; his plan to launch a bank into low earth orbit will of course be a first but it’s hard to not become enthusiastic at the notion of a truly globalized banking system. Adam Shapiro brings us back down to earth with a discussion on how to get governments to like bitcoin; there’s an air of irony here since Germany is hardly the most bitcoin-friendly nation on the planet.

Though more discussions follow, it’s all over too soon really. With the industry still in its infancy, there really is no end of discussion points to choose from. In Berlin, no speaker left the stage without receiving extensive questions from attendees. There are more questions to be fielded for sure. See you in New York.