- Crypto industry presence in Davos conference 2023 decreased compared to 2022.
- Decrease attributed to market downturn and tightened budgets.
- Despite smaller presence, industry still actively participating in panels and events.
The crypto industry's presence at the World Economic Forum's annual conference in Davos, Switzerland in 2023 has decreased significantly compared to the previous year. In 2022, crypto companies were advertising and operating "houses" which were lounges, meeting rooms, or event stages meant to introduce attendees to their projects.
The Promenade, the road outside the main Congress Centre, was filled with crypto companies advertising and operating houses. However, in 2023, the crypto industry's presence is much more subdued. While a few companies such as Circle, the Global Blockchain Business Council, Casper Labs, and the Filecoin Foundation are still present, there are far fewer companies in attendance.
The market may have played a role in this decrease in presence. Ripple Senior Vice President Brooks Entwistle stated that many of the crypto projects advertising or operating houses in 2022 likely booked them well in advance, considering the forum's annual meeting was originally set for January 2022 but was delayed due to a spike in COVID-19 cases worldwide. In contrast, 2023 bookings likely occurred after prices began to fall, leading to tightened budgets that may account for the much smaller presence this year.
Those who remain are not daunted by the decrease in presence. Marta Belcher, the Filecoin Foundation's head of policy, told CoinDesk that she believed there was less noise at the event this year, allowing for more conversations focused on the actual technology at hand. “It’s too soon to tell what the reception is like, but the responses [so far] has been encouraging,” she said.
As in years past, crypto has a presence within the main forum's own conference, with a number of panels addressing different aspects of the industry – but specifically focused on a narrow set of topics: central bank digital currencies, digital identities, tokenized economies and the like. The official conference kicks off Tuesday morning in Switzerland. Unofficially, the crypto industry began holding its own events on Monday, with Circle, the Global Blockchain Business Council, Casper Labs, and the Filecoin Foundation all hosting panels addressing everything from FTX (Sam Bankman-Fried is a “fraud,” alleged Skybridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci) to whether central bank digital currencies make sense (“I actually don't think central bank digital currencies are the solution,” said historian Niall Ferguson).
What may be more unexpected is the fact that regulators and policymakers are actively participating in these panels. Multiple United Nations representatives spoke about their work in a panel on blockchain use by public institutions hosted by the GBBC, alongside Commodity Futures Trading Commission commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero and Johannes Duong, of the Oesterreichischen Nationalbank (Austria’s central bank). Advit Nath, of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations agency, said his group was actively using blockchain tools to track the flow of donated funds in certain regions, while Goldsmith Romero praised the fact that blockchains inherently record every transaction, making it relatively easy for her agency to establish whether it has jurisdiction over certain transactions and crimes and just use market surveillance tools in general.
The events hosted by crypto companies are also seeing solid attendance. Casper Labs had a packed house on Monday evening, and a reception hosted by Filecoin was standing room only. Despite the decrease in presence, the crypto industry is still actively participating and contributing to the discussions at the World Economic Forum's annual conference in Davos, Switzerland.