New York is now the center of crypto

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Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to the daily edition of the Fortune Crypto (formerly The Ledger) newsletter. I spent a good part of last week at the Mainnet conference in Manhattan, and came away with several thoughts.

The first is that, even in the depths of crypto winter, the industry is thriving. The riverside venue was packed as executives from decade-old firms like Ripple and Coinbase took to the stage along with execs from buzzy newer projects like Near, Mysten, and Solana. Unlike conferences of years past, no one felt the need to defend the existence of blockchain as a technology or an asset class, or to yammer on about crypto being in “the first inning” or in a “pre-Cambrian” phase and so on. Instead, it’s obvious by now that crypto is real and it’s here to say.

A second thought that struck me at Mainnet is how traditional finance (“TradFi”) is now a fixture of the crypto scene. My on-stage conversations included those with executives from Bank of America and S&P, and with venture capitalists who had come up in the traditional VC world but now focused on crypto investing. In years past, people with such pedigrees would have shunned a crypto conference or else held themselves out as a separate industry (recall the ill-fated earlier era of “blockchain not Bitcoin”). Today, the old guard of the financial world is immersed in the same crypto world as everyone else.

And this brings me to my final observation—that New York City is now the epicenter of crypto. While blockchain culture was born and nurtured in Silicon Valley, and is thriving everywhere from Miami to Berlin, New York has emerged as the best place to cut deals and meet others in the industry face-to-face. The city has long been home to important crypto firms, including Galaxy and Gemini, but today it is being supercharged as the traditional giants of Wall Street—from BlackRock to Nasdaq—pile in too.

New York’s emergence at the forefront of crypto is a fitting development. The city’s finance sector controls trillions of dollars in capital, and remains the beating heart of U.S. and global capitalism. New York has also been the leader of earlier eras of finance, including those defined by big banks and brokerages. It only makes sense the city has come to lead the crypto era as well.

Jeff John Roberts


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