BTC Prague And The Value Of In-Person Bitcoin

This is an opinion editorial by Marek Feder, the editor in chief of Investro and a Bitcoin journalist who recently attended the BTC Prague event.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am not associated with the organizers of BTC Prague in any way, so in this article, I only provide my personal experience and views as an attendee. And one more disclaimer: I have not been to many Bitcoin conferences, so my takes and impressions from BTC Prague might be old news for some of you. However, I do believe that it was the first “huge” Bitcoin conference not only for myself, but also for countless others from Central Europe, so it might be nice to sum up the whole experience.

A Conference Literally For Anyone

The fact that the cheapest ticket to BTC Prague was only 9 euro (about $11) means that this conference was literally for anyone. There were obviously some limitations to this access, but the cheapest ticket got people to the exposition area as well as to two stages, which was definitely well worth it. This was probably one of the nicest touches by the organizers, as they made this conference available for masses, even outside of Bitcoin.

This was further enhanced by the fact that the programming on the “Czech Stage” was entirely about Bitcoin basics. It contained talks about what money is; introductions to Bitcoin, privacy and self-custody; explanation of the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum; and much more.

For two days, newcomers to the Bitcoin world could have listened to some of Bitcoin’s finest from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and receive educations equal to those gained from studying for hundreds of hours. I believe this highlights the importance of in-person conferences and affordable events that can help with orange pilling the mainstream.

Industry Day Rulez!

While the main conference presented on the Czech Stage and programming for Bitcoin beginners took part on June 9 and June 10, the industry day content focused on businesses started on June 8, and I believe this was the best day for making connections and new friends.

First of all, during the day, there were “only” two stages with talks and keynotes (the Czech Stage was not open at that time), meaning that there was less of an official program. This allowed people to spend more time in the well-thought-out and inspiring exposition area, where they could find dozens and dozens of companies and Bitcoin organizations. With more than 70 stalls and booths, attendees had a chance to talk to mining businesses, wallet providers, Bitcoin book shops, education organizations and countless other Bitcoin-related businesses.

And since the expo area was not as crowded on industry day, it provided the best chance for attendees to have in-depth conversations with all of the attending businesses. Having spent much of the first day in the expo area, I was really surprised by not only the openness and friendliness of all the participants, but also their willingness to have very thorough and informative discussions with anyone who was willing to listen and ask questions.

A Top-Notch Program

Michael Saylor, Adam Back, Eric Weiss, Giacomo Zucco, Stephan Livera, Marek “Slush” Palatinus, Ben Perrin, Peter McCormack, Rockstar Dev and many, many others spoke at the event. The BTC Prague conference had an incredible lineup with Bitcoin experts, developers, entrepreneurs, influencers and business people flying from literally all across the globe. The keynotes, discussion panels and talks were incredible.

As of this writing, the recordings for only two of the on-stage presentations have been released on the official YouTube channel. However, both of them are well worth a watch. Saylor’s “The Future Of Bitcoin” and Zucco’s “Ordinals Are Retarded,” for instance, filled the main hall to the last seat as people listened to these inspiring and educational keynotes. I highly recommend watching both of them.

The talks also included some interesting announcements from the speakers, but detailing what was announced would probably take up a whole article alone. Nevertheless, the announcements by Vexl Foundation, AmityAge, Fedimint and Aleks Svetski are worth looking into in particular

A Plethora Of Fascinating Side Events

Before the conference, some of my Bitcoin friends had mentioned that the most important parts would be the expo area and side events. As weird as that may sound, I now understand why they felt that way. While I was not able to personally attend all of the side events, I heard only the best feedback and opinions about the likes of “dev/hack/day,” a Nostr meetup and other events.

If the attendees really wanted to enjoy the talks and keynotes, and thus did not spend a lot of time in the expo area, the side events were an ideal chance for talking to people in a less formal way. From my observation, the vast majority of the employees from the conference stalls and booths were out and meeting with people even during the side events, giving the attendees a chance to talk with them in a more relaxed manner. Often, this was accompanied by a pint of renowned Czech beer at a restaurant serving homemade specialties of the local cuisine, making it even more pleasant.

Room For Improvement

Well, there is not much that I would have changed or that I believe is necessary to improve to make this event even more spectacular. However, one minor improvement might have led to even more satisfaction from attendees, yet, it was not related to the program, speakers or booths:

The food trucks were a source of friction that might be improved in the next event. At times, extremely long queues meant that people were waiting for their food for way longer than they should have, which could cost them precious time in such a tightly-packed conference schedule.

Additionally, while Lightning Network payments were available in all of the possible food court areas, with the exception of common areas of the hall, where I assume it was just not possible to accept Lightning payments, the food trucks often battled with this payment option.

I witnessed several problems with accepting Lightning as a payment method for food or drinks myself. Whether that was due to internet connection, problems with the operations of point-of-sale devices or mobile wallets, or just the pure frown on the face of a food vendor who was obviously tired of yet another “Bitcoin freak” paying with this internet money, the whole payment-in-Lightning experience could have been improved.

Obviously, this was not a big deal and I can hardly imagine a conference of this size being completely without flaws. And it should be noted that Lightning payments were available, if the vendors and buyers showed a bit of patience.

All in all, this was not critical to the overall feeling and outcome of the conference, but should the organizers strive for improvement for the next year, I would probably start here.

Will You Attend BTC Prague 2024?

And, speaking of next year, the organizers have officially announced that the second BTC Prague conference will take place, unsurprisingly, in Prague, between June 13 and June 15, 2024. If the level of the next year’s conference should be anywhere near the event I attended, it will be a blast for sure.

This is a guest post by Marek Feder. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

The Perfect Match: Visiting Real Bedford F.C. Is A Bitcoin, Soccer Fan’s Dream

Real Bedford F.C., a professional soccer team integrated with Bitcoin, gives fans of Bitcoin a team to root for.

This is an opinion editorial by Marek Feder, the editor in chief of Investro and a Bitcoin journalist who recently paid a visit to Bedford, England, with a group of Bitcoin and soccer fans from Slovakia.

Being a soccer fan as well as a Bitcoin enthusiast, I knew it was only a matter of time before I paid my visit to Bedford, England — home of a soccer team owned by “What Bitcoin Did” host Peter McCormack. And once I heard that a group of like-minded people were traveling from Slovakia, my homeland, to Bedford, to watch a game between Real Bedford F.C and Holmer Green F.C., I decided to join.

Here are a few things I learned about the Bitcoin community from this experience and why I think every fan of Bitcoin and soccer should plan their own trips as well.

Meeting Like-Minded People

First and foremost, one of the best things about trips like this is the chance to meet people who look at the world in a similar fashion to yourself — at least a bit. And while during most meetups you and your fellow Bitcoiners will have just one thing in common (Bitcoin), if you decide to take a trip to Bedford to watch a soccer match, it is very likely that there will be at least two topics that you have in common.

The combination of soccer and Bitcoin ensured that we were able to bond instantly despite the fact that most of us had never met each other. Moreover, it gave us a chance to not only talk about Bitcoin and everything related to it — which in most cases can have a bit of a formal or, at least, educational connotation — but through soccer, we were able to relax even more and enjoy a beer and, overall, a great trip.

What is more important is the fact that a trip or event like this gives you the chance to meet people you might have never met otherwise. In just a small group of 11 people that came to the meetup from Slovakia, we not only had Pavol “Stick” Rusnák, co-founder of Trezor and Satoshi Labs, but we also had other Bitcoin entrepreneurs joining the trip, as well as a member of the Slovak parliament.

A trip like this can, therefore, be a good opportunity for many different reasons, from meeting like-minded people, to knowledge sharing, to networking.

Soccer fans from Slovakia posing with McCormack. Source.

Supporting A Circular Economy

While most of the time on this trip we had to use fiat to pay, everything payment related to the club could have also been settled in BTC, whether on-chain or through the Lightning Network. I personally believe that it is only a matter of time before the City of Bedford becomes one of the most important circular economies for Bitcoin not only in the U.K., but quite possible in the world, despite the fact that this city has only about 170,000 people.

But maybe the fact that this is not New York City or Beijing plays to its advantage. In a smaller city, people can realize that something important is going on more quickly. Seeing folks all around with black and yellow hats and scarves with skulls on them will make locals think and, most probably, also act. Local businesses, restaurants, hotels, etc. will soon need to compete for Bedford soccer fans who are coming to the city from all around the place and have an interest in Bitcoin.

Hence, the adoption of Bitcoin in Bedford might be right around the corner. The more Bitcoiners who come to Bedford to not only watch a match, but also to enjoy Bitcoin meetups, the more the local business owners will hear the question, “Do you accept bitcoin?” And the game theory of adoption will start playing out really quickly once the first few dominoes fall, since we all know that Bitcoiners are generous spenders and supporters. We would have supported local businesses ourselves, had we been given a chance.

Learning From The Best

Before the match started, we were lucky enough to be joined by Rusnák, one of the OGs of the space. He gave an inspiring lecture about self custody and its importance, teaching not only fellow Bitcoiners, but also those who might have been new to the technology.

Rusnák giving a Bitcoin lecture at a Real Bedford F.C. meetup. Source: Author.

The long Q&A session that followed his lecture clearly showed that people are interested in the topic and wanted to understand it more. And not only in the topic of self custody, but Bitcoin itself. Rusnák was bombarded with questions left and right, with newcomers having the chance to listen to answers from one of the most competent speakers on the topic.

While it is impossible to have the likes of Rusnák at every meetup or before every Real Bedford soccer game, the more interest there is from soccer and Bitcoin fans, the more renowned and knowledgeable people there will be prone to coming down to Bedford to share their knowledge and talk to people.

The Combination Of Bitcoin And Soccer Just Works, So Why Not Support It?

Real Bedford is owned by McCormack, a renowned Bitcoin podcaster with probably one of the best-known Bitcoin podcasts in the world. Combining soccer and Bitcoin might look a bit weird at first — Bitcoin is viewed as money, an investment asset, a global monetary network, etc. — but as the main, unique selling point of a soccer club? Many might have been rather surprised when this “synergy” was announced.

Yet, McCormack is making it work flawlessly. He and his team are doing a wonderful job of evangelizing not only the name of Bitcoin in the soccer world, but also the name of soccer in the Bitcoin world. His merch of jerseys, hats, scarfs and other items are certainly improving the finances of the soccer club, which is currently sitting comfortably in first place in the Spartan South Midlands Football League. Promotion looks very possible, which would show that McCormack might be onto something.

Yes, moving from the tenth division to the ninth might not be the biggest of achievements and the ultimate goal of moving to the Premier League is still far off, but the team as well as the overall culture and the atmosphere around the club is definitely thrilling, the community is thriving and that first milestone is only nine matches away at the time of this writing.

Low Time Preference At Its Finest

With the ultimate goal of moving to the Premier League, McCormack and his Real Bedford club are probably one of the prime examples of maintaining a low time preference, a concept very popular among Bitcoin supporters. Even if the team were to heroically win every league title, it would take nine years to move to the Premier League. And winning the league every year is, quite honestly, not possible.

Nevertheless, per McCormack, the more immediate goal is to get the club into one of the top-four leagues in the next 10 years. This goal is much more achievable, not only from the soccer side, but also from the Bitcoin side. Personally, I do not believe that Bitcoin will be anywhere close to today’s price but will be much higher (in dollar terms) in 10 years. And if that is the case, Real Bedford can have a huge advantage compared to its competitors, no matter what league it is in. The finances of Real Bedford are poised to improve, whereas all of the other teams with their fiat supporters will probably be worse off.

If this plays out the way many of us expect, Real Bedford might be one of the biggest winners of the next bull market or two. Even if Real Bedford does not make it into the Premier League in the next 10, 15 or 20 years, the project is poised to succeed eventually and can be a prime example of why keeping a low time preference works.

Celebrating A Win

While there are definitely other reasons why one should visit Bedford, the above few definitely stood out for me. All of us who came to Bedford for this trip agreed that the visit was a huge success, giving us the chance to not only meet fellow Bitcoiners but to also to support a soccer club with great ambitions. The seven-to-one win for Real Bedford that we saw was definitely a nice cherry on top.

This is a guest post by Marek Feder. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.