From the start, digital currencies made their presence at the just concluded two day IFX Expo in Cyprus. The largest B2B conference for the online forex trading industry, the IFX Expo included over 70 exhibitors and around 2000 attendees as well as panel discussions. Attendees included members from technology providers, marketing agencies, brokers, and payment processing companies. Among exhibitors, there weren’t any pure bitcoin related firms, but several were involved with the offering products to trade the digital currency such as Leverate, SpotOption, and TradeLogic. While PSSoft was showcasing their ProTrader cryptocurrency exchange product.
Kicking off the first day was a Keynote Speech from Panos Lamprakos, Industry Manager at Google Greece who discussed online trends that were important for those in attendance to be aware of. Among trends, he stressed the importance of getting involved with bitcoins. In his presentation, he revealed that for the first time ever, during Q1 2014 their data revealed that bitcoins were the most popular search keywords among that traders and investors that were searching for information about volatile trends in the market. He explained to us that popular keywords were bitcoin, BTC bitcoin charts, and bitcoin charts.
However, not everyone was as bullish on the future of bitcoins. During the Technology Panel, Harpal Sandhu, President & CEO, Integral, stated he believed the future wasn’t bitcoins but PayPal. Speaking to him later in the event, Sandhu explained that his position was that consumers and businesses will gravitate towards their preferred medium of cash. Therefore, he believed that innovations created by digital currencies will, and are currently being adopted by traditional financial services such as PayPal, which would in turn minimize the need for digital currencies.
Concluding the IFX Expo, was the Digital Currency panel moderated by this author. Panelists included Alfred Shaffir and Yoav Elgrichi of the payment industry, Itay Damti and Timur Latypoff from the trading sector, and Tal Ron whose law firm represents many firms in the online space. The question of the panel was whether the FX industry should be embracing bitcoins and if so what were the opportunities. One of the clear items of the panel was the dual view of bitcoins as both a technology and tradable asset. As such, for brokers, it meant that the opportunity of bitcoins is both as a new trading product which provides marketing advantages for clients. In addition, as a payment source, it provided a global funding alternative for customers.
Some of the individual insights of the panel:
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Alfred Shaffir of PolyCoin – Explaining why he believed bitcoins are such an important technology innovation when compared to other emerging technologies in the world such as self-driving cars, apps to monitor health, and 3D manufacturing, Shaffir answered that at the root of practically everything is money. Therefore, by changing the way we use money, it affects pretty much everything in the world.
Itai Damti of Leverate – Speaking about the risks for brokers to offer synthetic bitcoin products like CFD and binary options, Damti stated that hedging trades is a problem since you don’t want to get stuck with another MtGox. But, he viewed this as a diminishing problem since exchanges are becoming more transparent.
Timur Latypoff of Latypoff Technology Labs – Any broker entering the market with a bitcoin related product shouldn’t jump into it quickly. Due to risks involved with both the trading side, and possible regulator restrictions about accepting them, there is a need for caution to evaluate what bitcoins involve.
Tal Ron – When it came to banking relationships and incorporating, he believed that it was important to evaluate your offerings and who your expected audience is and then discover whether current rules permit such a business. If not, then it could require setting up the business differently. He also was skeptical that distributed exchanges like Colored Coins would eliminate the need for lawyers to be involved with a sale as there is so much involved with both protecting the issuer and the investor that council is necessary (the audience though wasn’t too worried about seeing a future with a reduction of lawyers).
Full review of the panel and the video recording will be posted as soon as editing is complete