Last week, Web Summit Rio 2023 drew an impressive crowd of companies from finance, technology, and other diverse industries.
Over 20,000 participants from more than 100 countries gathered at the event, where they had the chance to connect with 700+ startups, as well as gain insights from 300+ speakers. Marcelo Sampaio, Hashdex’s CEO and Co-Founder, and Roberta Antunes, Head of Growth, participated on the crypto panels. In this article, we share four primary insights from the event, with an emphasis on discussions related to the crypto ecosystem and crypto investors.
LatAm is still a key market – especially Brazil
Numerous speakers offered insights into Latin America's role as a center of innovation and fintech over the past few decades. During a panel discussion, participants explored why Latin America, particularly Brazil, has become one of the largest markets for cryptocurrency.
Some reasons provided include the fact that crypto often flourishes in areas where there are problems to be addressed, such as high interest rates and prevalent inflation. Brazilians are attracted to dollar-based assets as a way to mitigate these issues, and cryptocurrencies' ability to offer easy currency exposure makes them appealing in this context. Latin America, known as a cradle of innovation, has been particularly receptive to this aspect of crypto.
Additionally, countries with progressive regulatory environments can entice businesses by fostering inclusivity. Speaking about traditional methods of gaining crypto exposure, Hashdex CEO Marcelo Sampaio mentioned that in 2018, he chose to launch the company in Brazil due to its more open regulatory atmosphere compared to the United States.
Most industries don’t understand Web3…yet
In 2022, metaverses became a hot topic, with a surge in investment announcements in these virtual worlds by global companies and powerful brands. However, the lack of understanding about blockchain, social tokens, and virtual environments has cooled the enthusiasm for these technologies since then. "Metaverse and crypto are 'foreign' concepts as of right now, but I don’t believe that they will be in the future," said the founder and CEO of Calaxy, a company that helps influencers monetize their personal brands.
During the event, Silvina Moschini, founder and president of Unicoin, shared her insights on the potential of metaverses as a 3D concept for enhancing business operations in sectors such as gaming and retail. With her company’s development of an equity-backed cryptocurrency, she highlights the role of technology in improving user experiences for products and services.
Thus, it is fair to say that as long as companies do not understand how these new technologies can change their business models and create new forms of revenue generation, the true onboarding of these companies to web3 will not be possible. Bozena Rezab, CEO and founder of Gamee (a high-engagement, play-and-own mobile gaming platform focused on onboarding mass gaming audience to web3), mentioned how brands such as Adidas and Puma adopting blockchain technology is a great sign of institutional adoption, but the best ways in which brands can interact with these new technologies are still yet to be put to display. Optimism remains for the future as companies better utilize these tools at their disposal.
AI might be a relevant trend for crypto one day, but not now
As 2023 began, public interest in artificial intelligence (AI) surged significantly. Given that Web Summit is a leading global conference on innovation and technology, attendees naturally sought to understand the potential of AI to transform our lives. "Who isn't going to be impacted by AI?" posed Fabiano Cruz, the founder and CEO of Zoop, a fintech company offering technological infrastructure for payment and banking solutions businesses.
Despite the growing enthusiasm for projects that merge crypto and AI, there currently seem to be no use cases where AI extends beyond being a trendy buzzword with limited practical implications. It is crucial to keep a close eye on the advancements of this emerging technology, as it may eventually reveal how it can positively influence the blockchain landscape.
Regulatory clarity for crypto remains elusive
Regulation emerged as a prominent topic of discussion in cryptocurrency-focused panels at the event. It was unsurprising that speakers addressed this issue either directly or indirectly. Thiago Cesar, the CEO of Transfero (issuer of BRZ, a stablecoin pegged to the Brazilian Real, BRL), asserted, "Regulation will provide more transparency to businesses, and Latin America requires it." Many speakers from various backgrounds shared this view, stressing that the absence of clear guidelines deters investors and innovators from engaging in this particular market.
During the panel discussions, numerous speakers highlighted the vital role of the Brazilian Central Bank and regulatory institutions like CVM in cultivating an environment that encourages innovation in Brazil. Rafael Stark, the founder and CEO of Stark Bank (a fintech company offering technology for businesses to scale their operations), praised the Central Bank's inclusivity and support for payment solution innovators and banks in Brazil.
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