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London loses ground to Paris in battle for crypto conference crown

Two major crypto conferences have been canceled for 2023, lowering London’s ranking. Token2049 and Blockworks’ Digital Assets Summit, which attracted 2,500 and 600 institutions last year, will not return to London. Token2049 organizers told The Block that Singapore will be their lone event this year, although they did not explain why they skipped London.

Blockworks moved its Digital Assets Summit from New York and London to Washington, D.C. “Why are we moving DAS to DC?” the company tweeted last week. “Simple goal. We want regulators, policymakers, and the brightest crypto minds in one room speaking the same language.” DAS won’t return until March 2020 in its new location. In November and October 2022, Token2049 and DAS took place. “While it’s disappointing to see two of the major industry events not taking place in the UK, we are certain this is a short break and not an end to these events returning in future years,” said CryptoUK’s director of operations, Su Carpenter.

“At times when organizations are having to prioritize their resources on more operational costs to ensure regulatory readiness, budgets will be repositioned differently than in previous years and surplus spend on activities like sponsorship and attendance to some of these higher cost, bigger events will most likely be a lower priority,” she said.

Due to a fierce bear market and challenging macro environment that has hurt company balance sheets and caused widespread layoffs, many industry insiders expected event organizers to scale back this year. Last year, event organizers told The Block that 2023 would be full steam ahead. Despite NFT Paris and Paris Blockchain Week, the UK is losing out. Paris Blockchain Week featured VIP dinners at the Louvre and degen boat parties on the Seine in true bull-market style. Pierre Gasly and Tim Draper gave keynote talks.

Paris Blockchain Week chairman and V3ntures general partner Michael Amar estimated 8,500 attendees last week. The organizers expected 10,000 people but expected the bear market and Paris strikes to reduce turnout. Last year, 6,000 people attended.

Alexandre Tsydenkov, NFT Paris’ founder, told The Block that 18,000 people attended the conference near the Eiffel Tower. Brigitte Macron was featured.

Greenfield Capital partner David An believes Paris Blockchain Week and other Continental events may fill the void created by London’s defections. “Since there are a number of fairly fantastic smaller events across Europe, I think, the opportunities to catch up with builders and to be part of a very busy and lively European crypto community are still there,” An told The Block in an email. “Nevertheless, there’s opportunity for new huge summits where the complete sector might assemble.”

Amar has heard from industry insiders that event attendance is declining. He said brand is crucial in this atmosphere.

“Those who might attend or support six or seven conferences are back to two or three,” Amar said. Amar said Paris Blockchain Week takes almost a year with over 20 full-time staff. He said that multi-location top-tier events can be difficult.

“Conferences trying to do two locations deserve respect because it’s a lot,” Amar said. “To produce one week of activities takes us nine to 10 months full-time.”

Why do Paris and Berlin crypto events succeed? Amar thinks Paris’s strong transport linkages, blockchain technologists, and web3 unicorns like Ledger and The Sandbox draw an international crowd.

“NFT and metaverse are wonderful for art, fashion, and luxury, which Paris is good at,” Amar remarked. Amar said many creators are going to Paris, Lisbon, and Dubai for clearer advice as the U.S. cracks down on crypto startups. UK crypto trading and lending regulations were announced in February. The Treasury consultation document proposed a new crypto regulatory framework that addresses consumer protection and crypto issuance. CryptoUK’s Carpenter thinks this puts the country back on par with other European hubs.

The UK Treasury canceled its non-fungible token launch on Monday. The Royal Mint NFT was supposed to make the country a crypto hub, therefore the move to halt the rollout appears to be another setback for digital asset acceptance. “As the industry here in the UK moves through our regulatory consultation period and there is more stability across the sector, we will see the return of these events, and possibly more, to the UK as we aim to take a leading global role in innovation and opportunities for crypto and digital asset businesses,” Carpenter said.


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