Exclusive interview with Michael Amar ahead of Paris Blockchain Week 2024

Rick Steves

The Paris Blockchain Week, a cornerstone event in the blockchain and cryptocurrency landscapes, is set to take place from April 9-12, 2024, at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. 

This gathering comes at a critical moment, with the European Union’s MiCA regulation on the cusp of implementation and Bitcoin achieving record-breaking highs, signaling a burgeoning interest in digital assets.

The Paris Blockchain Week’s agenda promises an enriching array of activities, beginning with a hackathon from April 5-7 that aims to foster innovation and collaboration among coders. Investors and Founders Day on April 11 will offer valuable insights and networking opportunities for startups and investors alike. An exclusive VIP experience on April 9 will afford attendees a unique cultural and culinary experience beneath the iconic Louvre Pyramid.

Who’s who of the blockchain world

Speakers at Paris Blockchain Week 2024 represent the who’s who of the blockchain world, including Richard Teng, CEO of crypto exchange Binance; Jeremy Allaire, CEO of USDC creator Circle; and Tim Draper, Founder and Managing Partner of Draper Associates. They will be joined by other renowned executives such as David Marcus of Lightspark, Ryan Selkis of Messari, Eric Anziani of Crypto.com, Denelle Dixon of Stellar Development Foundation, Brad Garlinghouse of Ripple, Jan Van Eck of Van Eck, Jiten Varu of Amazon Web Services, Yat Siu and Robby Yung of Animoca Brands, Yoni Assia of eToro, Silvio Micali of Algorand, and the list goes on.

Drawing over 10,000 attendees, more than 500 speakers, 400 journalists, and 300 partners, Paris Blockchain Week 2024 is poised to further cement its status as Europe’s premier blockchain congress. 

In the lead-up to Paris Blockchain Week, Michael Amar, a prominent figure in the blockchain industry and the event’s chair, shared his insights during an in-depth interview with FinanceFeeds. 

This discussion delves into several critical aspects of the current and future state of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, touching on Bitcoin’s price movements, the industry’s preparedness for upcoming regulatory changes in the European Union, particularly with the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, and the balance between speculation and genuine utility in crypto markets. 

Michael Amar, Chairman of Paris Blockchain Week
Michael Amar, Chairman of Paris Blockchain Week

FinanceFeeds: Paris Blockchain Week is taking place as Bitcoin prepares to push through the all-time highs of 2021 and enter unknown territory. What is driving the price of Bitcoin at this stage and where is it headed?

Michael Amar: For me, the price of Bitcoin is directly impacted by the launch of multiple Bitcoin ETFs that facilitate access to Bitcoin for many. The bitcoin halving due to happen around late April has also had an impact as we saw the previous times. Where is it headed? To the moon 😉 . I mean, see how many of the new generation are holding Bitcoin vs classic commodities, and see that every year they are going richer. The number of wallet holders of Bitcoin proves this, as well as so many accounts are now in profit from the recent run. There will be many more developments of the blockchain itself as well in the coming years that will advance its potential both as a chain offering and an investment opportunity.

FF: With the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation approaching, is the crypto industry prepared for the impending changes?

MA: Well, within the industry we saw great development in this area last year and we know that towards December this year, we will see the application of these regulations. Are we prepared? I think in my opinion it is always an evolving clog, the preparation is always there, or at least the focus always, but you can never be 100% accurate with the correlation until perhaps once regulation has launched and the opportunity to catch up when MiCA 2.0 comes out. One thing to mention of course is that many companies or asset classes already adhere to European Legislation but I am sure there are cross-over elements there. I am looking forward to this overall development because this ultimately protects the users as well as businesses, which is imperative if we want more end users in the space and to propel the industry even further, certainly a topic and multiple speakers, will be covered at Paris Blockchain Week

FF: Will speculation continue to dominate crypto markets, or is there potential for genuine utility and investment opportunities?

MA: It is the latter for me for sure eventually. Firstly, of course, most of the market is speculative, but we always stress at events or any form of communication that our excitement, including mine, comes from the utilization of real-world utility. There are so many industries to delve into here which comprise trillions of dollars worth of value, I love what will happen within Healthcare, Agriculture, and the Energy sector, especially with Peer-to-peer abilities and the ability to utilise DePin are just a few exciting areas that Blockchain can be applied to. We should always think of Crypto as much as possible as the utility of blockchain capability. We have so many exciting chains and companies from Web3 at Paris Blockchain Week this year and those in attendance will see what I mean when I talk about the excitement of these developments. From an investor perspective of course this is good news overall because the demand and solutions are there for everyone to see, with so much more growth in the coming years and decades.

FF: In late February, we covered Bitcoin breaking a new single transaction record of 26,000 BTC worth $1.347 billion. We’ll likely see larger and larger trades soon. The ledger is public, but not the Bitcoin ‘whales’ who use off-exchange wallets without KYC processes. Do you expect governments to take action? 

MA: It is difficult to really say definitively, however as we discussed the likes of MiCA initiatives, along with other global objectives to make things safer, more transparent, etc. we could see this push. This ultimately opens up the aspects of blockchain in two paths, decentralized vs centralized. We should respect the paths that are taken for each asset or chain, they offer so many advantages if applied correctly, but to your point of KYC, I do think this will be looked at, whether that is Bitcoin’s place in society or to avoid potential malicious transactions, it ideally needs to show transparency of all elements as otherwise we go backward with all the work done in regulation and clarity of the space. There are so many variables which is why I mention it is difficult to say what the outcome will be, I am sure pressure will be applied at some point.

FF: European authorities have been welcoming the digital asset industry, but could this drastically change if we see consumers ‘en masse’ adopting crypto as a store of wealth and a means of payment? What could happen?

MA: I feel that because of the already huge user base of crypto, this is one of the main reasons regulation has come in, and arguably has been fast-tracked the past few years more so than before. They know, we know, that billions of new crypto users will enter the market just in the next couple of years. You take all the narratives, AI, Real World Assets, DePIN, etc. These now reach huge audiences via mainstream media, they are no longer perceived as an ‘exclusive group’ of people. Wallets in web3 have evolved so much, as has KYC and biometrics, this all collectively appeals to new users, drives confidence, transparency protection and so on. I think this will accelerate initiatives further and faster, it is good for the economy in my opinion, with more jobs created, more areas of expertise needed, and new knowledge required, I see beyond this question a lot of excitement but equally still a long journey ahead to really define frameworks and how people will really use crypto assets moving forward outside of the chain utility element. ETF is a good example of developments, first of all, showcasing the magnitude of the space, still in its infancy really, and what major financial systems are seeing trend-wise for the future, as the saying goes – Follow the Money.

 

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