The German-speaking Bitcoin scene met in Innsbruck for three days for btc2023. We were also there and reported on the largest Bitcoin conference in the Dach region.
If you want to know what moves the German dreaming Bitcoin soul day and night, Innsbruck was the best place in the world last weekend. The btc2023 took place there – the largest German-speaking Bitcoin conference. More than 1,000 people attended the event in the Tyrolean capital, where more than 80 speakers represented the German ecosystem.
Like last year, the location, the Innsbruck Congress Center, was a dream: Inside, a huge converted atrium with white-tiled brick arches and ceilings at least seven meters high. Around the corner is the turquoise rushing Inn and the expansive Hofgarten opposite, around it is the picturesque old town, and as if that wasn’t feast for the eyes enough, proud Alpine peaks line the horizon in all directions.
The organization by Peter Taschler and Lukas Waldner was once again impressive. The sound and picture were excellent, the food was great, and the presenters, Debbi Reher, Nico Jilch and Rahim Taghizadegan, seemed even more confident than last year. Rahim in particular proved to be a gifted, quick-witted interviewer from whom many a television professional could learn a lesson.
From person to person instead of from account to account
I only heard part of the lectures. But my impression is that there was less “orange pilling” and Bitcoin moralism than last year, and there was a bit of a rhetorical tone down.
An example from Industry Day on Thursday, a nuance in the wording: Andreas Streb from Volksbank Bayern Mitte explained that they only sell Bitcoins because they don’t understand the other coins enough. This is notable because he had previously said that other coins were generally not decentralized. Bitcoin’s sacralization may have peaked.
In total there were around 60 lectures, interviews or discussions that were between 20 and 40 minutes long. The format was more of a series than a feature film, and more of Friends than Game of Thrones. The short intervals left little room for depth, but created variety and fit into the contemporary consumption pattern of binge watching. If you want, you can browse the lectures on the conference’s YouTube channel.
Unfortunately, I only listened to a fraction because I was mostly involved in conversations and discussions. Above all, I enjoyed politely and respectfully exchanging different opinions, politically with Joanna Cotar or Milosz Matuschek, on Bitcoin with Roman Reher or Joe Martin. “Agree to Disagree” is easier when you talk person to person instead of account to account.
Talk about pyramids
I was also on stage with the block trainer Roman in a discussion about “Bitcoin vs. Crypto”. The idea was that I would criticize Bitcoin and promote altcoins, while Roman would promote Bitcoin maximalism.
The discussion was moderated by Manuel from the Münzweg podcast, who calls himself a maximalist but remained remarkably neutral. Overall, it was less controversial than expected, and we ended up getting stuck on a detailed question about mining. But I managed to tell the audience that Bitcoin will not per se remain safe for decades to come unless fees rise significantly. I also finally mentioned the pyramids and called on the audience to fight together for a new financial system instead of in opposing camps.
But of course, the “Bitcoin-Only” conference had little love for other cryptocurrencies. However, the bite reflexes were less pronounced than last year, when the conference coincided with the Ethereum merge and the scene felt somewhat threatened by this. Instead, the community became more concerned with itself and the trends in the ecosystem.
Mining for the energy transition
Mining, which sailed under the green flag throughout Innsbruck, was noticeably well represented. Among the 21 exhibitors there were several providers of green mining or heating systems with mining systems. Whether it is really more sustainable to heat with miners instead of heat pumps, and whether mining in Kuwait is really green or just washing, is of course a different question.
In general, however, “Mining for the energy transition” seems to have become a strong narrative that also made it onto the stage every now and then, for example with a participant in the global climate strike that also took place in Innsbruck this weekend. Mining, they say, not only doesn’t harm the climate, as critics claim – but helps it, which is a massive advantage over Proof of Stake.
Another current topic is the ordinals. I unfortunately missed Lightrider’s talk about what ordinals do for Bitcoin, but I heard a lot of good things about it. Two lectures were about zero knowledge proofs and went into some technical depth. Both show that the field of vision of the Bitcoin scene is expanding beyond Lightning.
Lightning was used extensively at the coffee and food counters and was used on numerous machines in the exhibition area. But the offchain network came up relatively rarely in the lectures, which is probably a good sign: Lightning has deproblematized itself to the point that people use it instead of talking about it. Finally!
The conference as a driver of adoption
However, many of the lectures remained relatively superficial, probably due to their brevity. Real news was rare, especially spectacular news. Instead, the lectures offered many answers to the thorny question of whether Bitcoin is really just great or even better.
What was new was a return to classic ideas. After last year it was mainly about holdings, Bitcoin was now often the main payment method, both in online shopping and internationally. This could give hope that the stagnation of “adoption” will end.
The conference itself also sees itself as a driver of adoption. On the one hand, by inviting well-known personalities in German-speaking countries who indirectly have something to do with Bitcoin. For example, the Austrian actor Roland Düringer, the entrepreneur Peter Kotauczek, the journalist Milos Matuschek, the podcaster Daniel Stelter or the eternal crash prophet Marc Friedrich. Even if I didn’t like the selection all the time, it brought a variety to the stage, which was very refreshing with Roland Düringer, for example.
On the other hand, the conference itself became a demo show for Lightning. Instead of talking about it, we do it. You could play pinball with Lightning, use many other machines, have a Tesla honk in front of the door, buy coffee, beer, ice cream and food and, of course, get fuel for the evening’s entertainment from the legendary cocktail machine of my compatriots from the Ulm Bitcoin regulars’ table .
According to the payment service provider LIPA, visitors spent 0.62 Bitcoin on catering. As far as I could tell, payments were usually made in Bitcoin, and according to the staff, payments went through reliably. Not 100 percent yet, but we’re getting closer.
And perhaps that is the strongest message you take home from a strong conference when you travel from the Tyrolean capital back to the German plateau.