Vancouver’s CoinFest Bitcoin convention goes global for 2015

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      What began as a small gathering of dozens of Bitcoin enthusiasts in Vancouver in 2013 looks set to grow into an international event touching at least four continents next year.

      Andrew Wagner, founder of CoinFest, told the Georgia Straight that the fourth edition of the decentralized currency convention will take place February 20 to 22, 2015, in at least 13 cities.

      “I like Bitcoin, and I feel it brings the world together in a sense,” Wagner, who’s a director of Vancouver’s Bitcoin Co-op, said by phone from his Vancouver home. “And we can prove that, because this convention will occur simultaneously worldwide.”

      After the first two CoinFest conventions were held in Vancouver in 2013, the event expanded to two days and three cities in February 2014.

      In Vancouver, this year’s event included an art and trade show, currency and commodity exchange, game room, mining and hardware demonstration, and currency conference—all at different venues. Locally organized events were also held in Edmonton and Winnipeg.

      Plans call for CoinFest 2015 to see events in those Canadian cities, as well as Toronto and Montreal, and locales in Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Uruguay.

      “I don’t believe in borders,” Wagner said. “I believe in the one-world thing to a certain extent, and Bitcoin kind of moves to obsolete a lot of nuisances we find when we try to interact with each other around the world.”

      Wagner, who threw the Crypto Block Party as part of Car Free Day Vancouver’s Main Street festival in June, noted that CoinFest events will be live streamed on the web. He’s also looking at setting up a virtual chat room, so people who can’t attend in person can participate.

      “It’s supposed to form a global community that’s unified,” Wagner said. “Where Bitcoin is usually so competitive, we sometimes need to band together to promote Bitcoin.”

      Like the previous events, it won’t cost people a penny (or, more appropriately, a satoshi) to attend the upcoming CoinFest.

      “A lot of other Bitcoiners are doing these things, and they charge like 200 bucks a ticket,” Wagner said. “I want it to look like we’re not doing Bitcoin for money, so the conference must be free.”

      For February 21, Wagner is planning a decentralized series of events at Waves Coffee House, India Gate restaurant, Decentral Vancouver, and other venues in downtown Vancouver. On February 22, there will be a currency conference at the Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre.

      Wagner is hoping to collaborate with the Bitcoin student clubs at Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and the University of B.C. on February 20’s events. He noted that only venues that accept Bitcoin are eligible to host CoinFest 2015 events in town.

      “The whole event will be on Bitcoin,” Wagner said. “CoinFest does not possess a bank account and never will.”

      According to Wagner, the number of cities hosting CoinFest events could grow to over 20 by the time the 2015 convention comes around. He pledged to form a decentralized autonomous organization to run CoinFest in the future.

      “The whole thing is decentralized,” Wagner said, “including the fundraising system.”