World leaders and GOAT to headline Crypto Bahamas
FTX moves to cement nation’s status as crypto ‘leader’
Conference to give immediate $12m economic impact
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A former US president and ex-UK prime minister, plus a record-breaking Super Bowl winner, are heading the speaker line-up at a conference that will next week seek to elevate The Bahamas’ position as a digital assets “front runner”.
Bill Clinton, the 42nd US president, will be joined by Tony Blair, UK prime minister from 1997-2007, as both men give their views on “the world today” in rounding off Thursday’s formal agenda at the first-ever Crypto Bahamas conference, which will take place between April 26-29 at the Baha Mar resort.
And, closing out Wednesday’s panel discussions and presentations, will be the NFL’s GOAT (greatest of all time), seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady, who will participate with Sam Bankman-Fried, chief executive of Bahamas-based crypto currency exchange, FTX, for a session simply entitled “winning”. FTX Digital Markets, together with thought leadership network Salt, are the event’s two prime organisers.
Valdez Russell, FTX’s vice-president of communications and corporate social responsibility, told Tribune Business yesterday that the conference is forecast to produce an immediate $12m boost to the Bahamian economy via both its attendees and the activities they will undertake while here. This will not be confined solely to New Providence, but extend to islands such as Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera via the trips they will undertake.
Beyond the short-term impact, Mr Russell said attracting premier financial and business executives in the digital assets, blockchain and crypto currency space to The Bahamas is designed to further cement this nation’s position as a leading jurisdiction for these activities. It will also introduce these professionals to The Bahamas, with the possibility of encouraging them to transact business with this nation or even domicile entities here.
“We’re quite excited about that, and what it means for the economy of The Bahamas,” he added of the conference. “We have intentionally sought to bring together some of the world’s top thought-leaders in the crypto space, and look forward to their insights.”
Describing The Bahamas as “one of the premier” crypto jurisdictions in the world, with the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges (DARE) Act having provided the regulatory platform upon which fully compliant operators can conduct business, Mr Russell said education was critical if the country is to be “a leader in this space” not only now but well into the future.
“The Bahamas has an incredible position right now as a front-runner and leader in the digital asset space,” he told this newspaper. “What we are constantly doing at FTX is maintaining that position so that it results in a competitive advantage and results in improved benefits for Bahamians, residents and the economy.”
Pledging that Crypto Bahamas will become an annual event, with the dates for the 2023 conference to be announced when the inaugural one ends, Mr Russell said: “We conservatively estimate this [conference] will deliver a $12m boost to the Bahamian economy, and not just the island of New Providence. We will have guests arriving early and staying late.”
In the meantime, FTX Digital Markets has continued to strengthen its Bahamas presence. “We continue to increase our talent pool,” he added. “We had previously indicated that, by the second quarter of this year, we would be up to 50 persons. We have achieved that goal and are moving closer to 60 Bahamians. We also continue to engage the local business community in meaningful ways.”
Mr Russell said the crypto currency exchange’s Bahamas presence has created spin-off entrepreneurial opportunities in industries such as hospitality, transportation, security and food, adding: “The impact of FTX’s economic presence in The Bahamas does not stop at the employees we hire, but also involves the local community in real ways, which is a good part of being here.”
FTX has also just been granted a digital exchange licence in Dubai, Mr Russell said, adding: “We’ve got to strengthen our presence around the world as a crypto leader.”
Besides leading digital asset executives from overseas, Crypto Bahamas will also have a strong local presence. Besides an opening address from Prime Minister Philip Davis QC, the event will also feature a panel discussion on Better Business in The Bahamas including Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investment and aviation, plus Senator Ryan Pinder, the attorney general.
The other two panellists are a current and former Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) chief executive, Tanya McCartney and Aliya Allen (now a Graham, Thompson & Company attorney and partner). Rhonda McDeigan-Eldridge, a Bahamian financial services executive, will moderate the panel discussion.
Other local speakers include Barbara-Ann Bernard, founder and chief executive of Wincrest Capital, and Dr Jillian Bethel, chief executive of OKX Bahamas.