5 Signs From CES 2019 That Crypto Is Ready For The Mainstream

The Consumer Technology Association’s CES is the biggest trade show in the world and the biggest event hosted in Las Vegas every year. Over 2.7 million net square feet of exhibit floor space is set aside for over 182,000 tech industry professionals to learn the latest trends in consumer technology.

I drove to Las Vegas with a small production team to catch up with the blockchain and cryptocurrency developments at CES 2019. As the winter rolled on (registration was last fall), it became clear through the programming and exhibitors that crypto is a force to be reckoned with this year.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the crypto and blockchain highlights from CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

1. Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallets Are Legit Tech

Wallets and exchanges shined throughout CES, with Ledger and Trezor both showing off their offerings. Both are available at major retailers and could be expanding their presence in the market in 2019.

Ledger introduced the Nano X, which is a Bluetooth-enabled hardware wallet and a step up from its popular Nano S, which sold over 1.5 million units as of the end of 2018. The Nano X can hold up to 100 crypto assets, six times more than the previous version. Ledger is also launching the Ledger Live mobile app that supports Nano S and Nano X users.

Meanwhile, I got a hold of a Trezor Model T and bought some Bitcoin to get started in cryptocurrency investing myself. My 2019 resolution is to invest $100 in a new altcoin every month this year. I’ll work on comparing wallets more once I do.

Kevin Love from Bundil, the Shark Tank-funded crypto investment app, was also on hand discussing the benefits of crypto investing.

2. Retailers Are Crypto-Curious

Retail’s biggest pushback against accepting crypto as payment is volatile pricing, but they’re not necessarily against blockchain technology. CES 2019 had a range of informative sessions throughout the week to demystify crypto for merchants.

During “The Great Crypto Debate”, MakerDAO (MKR) President Steven Becker and Bitcoin Foundation’s Brock Pierce participated in a roundtable discussion about the viability of crypto as both currency and technology.

And Pundi X(NPXS) hit CES in a big way, showing off its new blockchain-based phone at CES Unveiled. Called “Function X, ” the phone runs on Android 7.0 and the company plans to released 5000 phones to proof the concept before licensing their tech to other manufacturers.

If you don’t already know Pundi X, it has point-of-sale devices and a crypto wallet, which, when combined with this phone, creates an end-to-end, blockchain-based connection between retailers and customers.

3. Esports, Media, and Marketing Are Decentralizing

Advertising, video games, and media in general are among the leading use-cases of blockchain technology. Tracking creative materials from sounds and images to more complicated work can be frustrating, and it’s hard to know what’s effectively reaching who at the right times.

“Blockchain and Advertising: The Possibilities and Realities” paired CTA’s Jack Cutts with Sara Bruno at Arent Fox, MIT Media Lab’s Michael Casey, and Brian Wong from Kiip to discuss how blockchain technology relieves the biggest pain points for ad agencies, including nearly $20 million lost to ad fraud.

Casey joined more speakers from Nexus, BTC Inc, and Entertainment AI in another talk on how blockchain is remaking the media and entertainment business.

And gaming (especially esports) could be found all over the CES floor, from conferences detailing how developers like Blizzard are adapting to modern digital economies to hardware companies like Nvidia, Razer, and Intel featuring pro gamers at their booths.

4. The Future Is Mobile-First

Blockchain is a fundamental technology in the future IoT environment, and CES 2019 made this very clear. IBM’s Jason Kelley and EY’s Louise Keely were among the participants CBS’s Teena Maddox spoke with about cities around the world dipping their toes in blockchain technology.

From smart cities to supply chain and operations, blockchain technology is working with IoT to create a mobile-first world.

Autonomous cars, flying drones, home entertainment, robot and voice-activated assistants, smart homes, and so much more technology was on display. It’s more clear than ever that we’ll be connected to technology wherever we go.

5. ICOs Are Complicated

We cannot possibly say enough about the shift from ICOs to STOs in 2018 and beyond. If you don’t know why, CES 2019 had a surprisingly poignant 90-minute session called “True Confessions: ICOs, Crypto, Tokens and VCs” with Yahoo Finance/USA Today’s Rob Pegoraro discussing the pitfalls of ICOs with people who lived through them.

Tim Draper (Tezos), Matthew Roszak (Bloq), and Sam Trautwin (Carbon) were among the people discussing their experiences. Draper has by far the most interesting story, and if you’re not familiar with the Tezos soap opera already, click the link above. What’s even more interesting is the lessons learned. None of the speakers are pulling back from crypto – they’re just applying the lessons learned and moving forward.

And that’s what gives me hope for blockchain and cryptocurrency moving toward 2020. Everyone has their hand in it, and the projects have gotten as sophisticated as any other technology at CES this year.

Author: Brian Penny
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And Now There’s A Cryptocurrency Nightclub In Vegas

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Friday night and a man in a white button-down shirt named Joey just ordered me a shot of Fireball. It’s a little hard to hear him over the music blasting from the other side of the velvet ropes, but the club’s director of services leans in close to make sure I can hear him.

“Excellence and hospitality in the crypto world,” Joey says in response to my request that he describe just what, exactly, is going on here.

I’m sitting on a spacious couch in a private club, inside of another nightclub, inside of a casino, and we’re discussing Las Vegas’s first cryptocurrency nightclub: MORE Las Vegas. Launched in April by Peter Klamka — a man known for, among other things, his involvement with The Legends Room gentlemen’s club which allowed patrons to tip performers in bitcoin — the nightclub comes with all the trappings of a typical VIP Vegas destination. There’s the $250,000 bottles of champagne, high-heeled cocktail waitresses, and view of the Bellagio fountains that’s to die for.

Unlike every other club in Las Vegas, however, this one has its own cryptocurrency — a currency you need to HODL to even get through the front door.


Party through the Crypto Winter

It has not been a good year for the price of cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin and ether are way down from their late 2017 and early 2018 highs, and most altcoins have fared significantly worse. Meanwhile, in the background, ICOs are revealed as scams at a disturbingly regular clip, and the SEC keeps dragging its heels on a proposed bitcoin ETF.

The much-maligned talk of Lambos has shifted to progressively less convincing explanations as to why all of this is actually good for bitcoin.

Still, some people are getting — or, if they sold at the right time, remain — undeniably rich. It is often that crew, the group who either through dumb luck or skill managed to retain its newfound wealth while the market bled, who feels the most committed to its bitcoin maximalist or Ethereum-world vision.

Their livelihood depends on it, after all. And they like to party with each other.


It was with all this in mind that I accepted an invitation to check out MORE Las Vegas. I’d be in Vegas anyway for DEF CON, and this seemed like a great opportunity to see what a city that practically defines opulence does when it sticks its toes into the world of cryptocurrency.

Well, what is does is MORE Las Vegas — a club with its own token that doubles as a de facto membership fee. Owning 5,000 MORE Coins or more makes you a MORE Las Vegas member.

“[MORE Coin is] the intersection of nightlife and crypto demonstrating a real-world application of blockchain tech,” Klamka told me later that night.

The coin trades on the Bittrex exchange, and was created at the behest of Klamka. At the time of this writing, the ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain is listed at just over 15 cents with a 24-hour trading volume of $201.

MORE Las Vegas is essentially a special VIP area inside of the Hyde nightclub, which itself is located inside of the Bellagio hotel and casino. To get in, you have to first reach out to Joey. This both gives you an opportunity to let the club know you’re coming, and to prove your stake in the coin.

The floor staff is trained to accept cryptocurrency as payment, though interestingly all the prices on the bottle-service menu are listed in USD. And the staff isn’t picky about how you pay. Want to send them $100,000 worth of bitcoin for that 15-liter bottle of Ace of Spades champagne? They’re happy to take it.

Want to pay in MORE Coin? Well, that’s fine too.

According to a MORE Las Vegas spokesperson, the club has around 1,500 members — though, she emphasized, as the only thing that makes you a member is coin ownership, the number changes all the time.

The place was about a third full when I arrived at 11 p.m. on Friday, which, in all fairness, is well before a Las Vegas club gets going. A look around at the clientele revealed what appeared to be typical Vegas nightclub goers: They were well-dressed and young with money to spend.

Essentially, just like every other place on the Strip. Had crypto finally hit mainstream adoption?

But that changed shortly after we went outside to the club’s stunning private patio. Directly at ground level, it overlooked the Bellagio fountains and was clearly a big selling point for Klamka. Shortly after our interview concluded, Klamka left the patio to soon return with a group of young men that much more closely aligned with the stereotype of someone all in on crypto.


One of the group, covered in various crypto tattoos, had a scrolling LED hat that brightly read “BITCOIN.” Below his shorts, high bitcoin-themed socks complimented some form of fuzzy slipper.

The club had a strict dress code, and while it wasn’t clear if this new arrival’s garb fell within it, that clearly hadn’t stopped him from getting in.

We struck up a conversation, and soon realized we were both in town for the DEF CON hacking convention. When I asked him if he was worried that his tattoos might make him a target for hackers, he shrugged off the possibility.

He kept most of his crypto in cold storage, he assured me. His blinding hat made conversation difficult.

When his friends settled the bill later in the night, they appeared to pay with a credit card.

Big Plans

In many ways, MORE Las Vegas is just another luxury nightclub in a city full of them. But, in the world of cryptocurrency, it is possibly something more. It’s an actual brick-and-mortar business, after all, in an industry that is flush with grand ideas but lacking in execution.

Klamka spoke of plans to open additional locations in Miami and elsewhere, and described a business model where people buy and sell club memberships on the blockchain. This was a real-world application, albeit an extremely boozy one, of an ERC-20 token.

It may not have been what Vitalik Buterin had in mind, but I can’t imagine that would bother Klamka too much.

After all, he’s got a business to run and a coin to promote — and you’d better believe he’s HODLing.

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Author: Jack Morse
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