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WEF Davos 2024: Crypto Predictions, and the Pivot to AI

Tanzeel Akhtar
Last updated: | 3 min read
WEF Davos
Image by Tanzeel Akhtar

Once again the social elite gathered in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) – a global event bringing together the most influential players in politics and business to discuss the upcoming trends in business.

For the last seven years, crypto players have edged their way into Davos during the WEF. Who can forget 2017 (peak crypto) — crypto was the hottest trend. The talk of the town not forgetting the initial coin offering (ICO) phase.

After the ICO bubble popped there was an attempt to make “security token offerings” (STOs) and “initial exchange offerings” (IEOs) a thing but this fizzled out too.

In 2018, the WEF saw more chatter around Bitcoin and how some cryptocurrencies were a fad, but blockchain technology was here to stay. Then eventually crypto and blockchain technology took a back seat at Davos and chatter around the importance of regulation continued on a yearly basis.

In 2019, attendees continued to try and revive the sector, with many verbally bashing crypto as fad. Back then at the WEF, Jeff Schumacher, founder of BCG Digital Ventures, said: “I do believe it [bitcoin] will go to zero. I think it’s a great technology but I don’t believe it’s a currency. It’s not based on anything.”

Between 2020-2023 (excluding 2021 when the WEF was cancelled due to Covid) – crypto continued to remain on the outskirts – although addressed and included (for diversity) it is no longer the hot new trend as it was in 2017. Despite crypto players desperately trying to revive the sector with cool afterparties and Bitcoin pizza day – crypto remains niche,  a bit like Marmite.

WEF Davos Discussion Points

Cryptonews touched base with attendees on the ground in Davos, Switzerland.

“At Davos, WEF attendees have been discussing the recent approval of ETFs and how this significant achievement could potentially lead to widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies,” said Marcos Benitez, head of sales Switzerland for Copper.co.

“Many countries are looking to the United States to follow a similar regulatory framework. It’s worth noting that within the first two days of the listing of various Bitcoin ETFs, a staggering $4.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency had already been traded,” added Benitez.

Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval 

CoinDesk producer and anchor Christine Lee, who is at Davos said the crypto crowd gathered this year is optimistic due to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approving the ETFs.

“The crypto vibe in Davos 2024 is decidedly more optimistic thanks to the SEC’s approval of 11 Bitcoin ETFs, driving the market higher in anticipation of further institutional adoption. When the news was announced last week, entrepreneurs at CfC St. Moritz, a highly curated crypto conference pre-Davos, were popping champagne bottles, and the wine continued to flow at the various parties throughout the World Economic Forum this week,” said Lee.

Lee has attended numerous events in Switzerland explains many crypto companies are back on the Promenade in Davos, though their operations have scaled back coming off the bear market.

“Circle is opting for private meetings rather than last year’s blowout party and Filecoin Foundation has dialed back their budget. Others making repeat appearances include Hedera, Caspar Labs, 1 Inch, the Global Blockchain Business Council, CV VC, and Skybridge Capital,” said Lee.

WEF Davos 2024 Crypto Media Coverage 

Here is a round up of some of the interesting coverage coming out of Davos relating to the cryptocurrency sector.

Reuters, Divya Chowdhury and Lisa Pauline Mattackal report hedge fund SkyBridge’s Anthony Scaramucci believes Bitcoin’s price could breach $170,000 next year, driven by demand for newly listed exchange traded-funds and April’s halving event. “If bitcoin’s at $45,000 on the halving, where it roughly is right now, it’ll be $170,000 by mid- to late 2025,” the SkyBridge founder and managing partner told the Reuters Global Markets Forum at Davos.

CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal and MacKenzie Sigalos report that, artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be dominate the Promenade far more than crypto firms this year, reversing a trend from the past few years. The duo look back at their previous converge of crypto at Davos.  In January 2023, as the crypto winter had set in, firms pulled back on splashing the cash at Davos, but there was still a heavy presence from the industry, inclduing a mysterious orange bitcoin car. Today it seems Davos is all about AI which is dominating the WEF.

Financial News, Bilal Jafar reported, the crypto world has long headed to Davos in January, but has rarely been admitted inside the WEF. Instead, it has chosen to represent itself outside the heavily guarded conference. Jafar reports, crypto seeks legitimacy at World Economic Forum as Ripple president urges ‘mature players’ to attend.