Cryptocurrency conference increases Tampa’s clout in financial-tech sector

Make Florida the leader in blockchain and financial technology — that’s the aim of a two-day event kicking off Thursday at Amalie Arena. It’s called the “Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit,” touted by organizers as the only fintech event with a focus on Florida. More than 500 people are expected to attend.

Event organizers said they will focus on the expansion of the financial technology industry in Bitcoin and blockchain, with the goal of developing a strategy to drive growth inside and outside Florida to benefit the emerging industry.

Tampa Mayor Jane castor will give a welcome address Friday morning. Tampa Bay Lightning’s owner, Jeff Vinik, will also be part of this event as he receives an Innovation Catalyst of the Year award.

“This is a terrific opportunity for our great city,” event organizer Chris Krimitsos said in a news release. “The Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit reinforces Tampa’s spot on the map to be a center of activity for this industry.”

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In August, Forbes magazine listed Tampa number one on a list of the most up-and-coming tech cities.

Nuke Goldstein, the chief technology officer and co-founder of the online platform Celsius Network, said that’s what made the move to the area more attractive.

“I personally relocated to Tampa and want to make sure the city I’m sticking a flag in is blockchain and crypto innovationfriendly,” he said in the release. “I’m committed to add 100 quality jobs in Tampa by 2022.”

According to event organizers, Goldstein’s company is on schedule to hit that mark sometime in the first half of 2022.

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Noting that he met with the mayor and the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council when he recently moved to the area, Goldstein added, “It’s easy to see that it’s a growing city. There’s a flow of people coming in from New York and the west coast. Combined with the growth of the city, downtown getting built, and the positive attitudes of the local government, the potential is great. The ecosystem is fantastic. The talent from the universities is great.”

The event is aimed at “bringing together stakeholders, businesses, and political leaders from all over Florida as well as outside of the State to collaborate on a strategy that will drive growth inside and outside the Sunshine State,” organizers said.