Economy

in Lisbon, cryptocurrencies in debate



It’s the big comeback of the favorite event for enthusiasts of the technological sector: the “Web Summit” show opens this Tuesday, November 1 in Lisbon. At the same time, the Portuguese capital marks the revival of the pre-pandemic format, with four opening days and a sold-out attendance of some 70,000 visitors. As usual, start-ups and investors, business leaders and other personalities will come to talk about the latest in technology.

Money should also play an important role. Not just any, but that of cryptocurrencies. These fully digital currencies, and therefore dematerialized, have established themselves in ten years in the world of finance. Indexed or not on the dollar, they are issued by companies or groups of private users unlike the currencies launched by States.

Many specialists in this financial universe will be present in Lisbon, in particular “tech” companies, start-ups or unicorns (companies valued at several billion euros) such as the OpenSea platform. The headliner of the show is also the Chinese-Canadian Changpeng Zhao (or CZ), boss of the main crypto-asset exchange, Binance.

Thousands of cryptocurrencies

If the general public is essentially familiar with bitcoin or ethereum, there are now several thousand of these dematerialized currencies, according to observers. In addition, institutions such as large banks (Societe Generale, BlackRock, etc.) have rushed into this niche. El Salvador was even the first state to make it a legal currency in September 2021, in order to modernize the country’s image, attract new investors or even promote money transfers from the some 3 million emigrants to worldwide.

The result would be mixed, even missed according to some analysts, in particular because of the vertiginous fall of bitcoin. After having brushed against the clouds of the Stock Exchange with a high of some 68,000 dollars (68,750 €) in November 2021, the cryptocurrency stabilized on October 31 at… 20,660 dollars (20,870 €).

Note that other cryptocurrencies hardly performed better. When their total market was valued at more than $3 trillion in 2021, it would have fallen to just over $1 trillion currently, according to the specialized site CoinGecko. Falls which have, in fact, resulted in significant losses to investors.

A speculative bubble?

These currencies of a new era are also the subject of many critics who accuse them of fueling financial bubbles, facilitating tax evasion or money laundering. When asked by AFP, Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave agreed that “many questions remain unanswered” regarding cryptos, which he himself defines as largely a matter of some kind of illusion.

“We’ve done our best to persuade key figures in the ecosystem to come, and some of them will be a little pushed on stage. We’ll see what happens.”he added, specifying that the purpose of the Show was in any case not to seek to stimulate investment in this area.

At the bottom of the wave

Are cryptocurrencies really in crisis? “I don’t think we can talk about a crisis, responds Raphaël Bloch, founding journalist of TheBigWhale, an independent specialized media. What happens to cryptocurrencies is what happens to long-term financial phenomena. At certain periods, they are at the crest of the wave, at others, they are at the trough like at the moment. » A hollow that Raphaël Bloch relativizes, recalling that at the first transaction in bitcoin, in 2009, the latter was valued… less than a dollar.

“We are living in a period of consolidation like the one we experienced with the Internet bubble at the end of the 1990s, says Raphael Bloch. A lot, even a lot of money was invested and many projects were not viable. But this has allowed the birth of giants like Google or Amazon. »



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