WEF 2022: Crypto firms dominate Davos main street despite price crash

Sunday was Bitcoin Pizza Day and delegates were offered slices of pizza on the Promenade to mark the day when Laszlo Hanyecz used the crypto to buy two pizzas from Papa John's in Florida on May 22. Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC, then worth $41, to buy pizza, which was the first physical commodity to be bought with digital currency. The value of BTC has soared since then, and at today's valuation, the 10,000 BTC are valued at around $300 million. Expensive pizza, but then, creating history always comes at a cost. Several crypto currency companies have taken promotional space at the main promenade and have overshadowed legacy financial institutions like Bank of America at Davos.

A free bitcoin pizza stall and a “Liquidity Lounge” were among the treats on offer for attendees at this year's meeting in Davos, where blockchain and cryptocurrency firms have taken over its main street, despite a recent crash in digital coin values.

Executives from the crypto sector have descended on the annual gathering of leaders and politicians in the Swiss Alpine resort, seeking to encourage faster adoption of their , which is largely unregulated. The crypto crowd's prominence at Davos, while largely on the sidelines of the main event, comes as cryptocurrencies shed $800 billion in market value earlier this month.

Small traders have flocked to crypto in the hope of quick returns, despite warnings from regulators that the emerging assets can be high risk. Luna, until recently the eighth-biggest digital coin and backed by institutional crypto investors, has shed nearly all of its value.

The WEF, which typically caters to the financial elite including major banks such as Citigroup to Credit Suisse , is holding panels on cryptocurrencies' carbon footprint and future and one on decentralised finance.

“It's been rising outside and inside the gates,” said Stan Stalnacker, chief strategy officer at social network Hub Culture, which also operates a digital currency, referring to crypto's presence in the conference and on its sidelines.

Stalnacker estimated that about 50% of the town's storefronts have been occupied by blockchain or cryptocurrency firms for the duration of the event.

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