Cryptocurrency developers rally as turmoil grips industry – Reuters

Skulls and bones stacked in the catacombs of Paris

AFP/Patrik Kovarik

PARIS. About 20 meters below ground level in Paris is a maze of centuries-old tunnels known as the catacombs that contain the remains of some six million Parisians. Legend has it that the victims of the plague included some of the bones that lined the corridors.

This week it has been transformed into a neon-lit techno cave where top Ethereum programmers can party until 4am. The mantra was to leave no trace, so by sunrise everything was gone.

“It’s very illegal, but also very crypto,” said one of the approximately 100 party attendees, who declined to give his name for fear of alerting the Paris police.

She also said that hiking was one of the most ridiculous things she has ever done in her life. The expedition included crawling under fences, crawling through caves, tracing the paths of old railroad tracks, wading up the hip of muddy water, and some bouldering.

“There was a gap in the rocks and I didn’t think about it. I just thought, “Oh, we’re taking a break here,” and then a person came out,” the member explained.

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The hike to the Catacombs Feast included fording through the water at some point.

anonymous party-goer

Several detachments gathered in the 14th arrondissement of Paris late on Saturday evening to penetrate the underground monument. Each team was put together through an anonymous Telegram group and received their own entry.

“You received a link and password to the profile, answered a few questions and gave your Telegram. If you were chosen for this adventure, you were added to a Telegram group with a handful of other people you didn’t know. , and on the same day the guide came by phone to point you to the meeting point,” Wong said of his experience.

Another party member turned on his fitness tracker to determine the distance and found himself walking four and a half miles underground.

All paths converged at a large central cave, where there was a DJ, a bar with neon lights, candles and dancing people.

The only downside to an underground rave in a mass grave?

“People are starting to think, ‘Um, where am I going to hang out?'” another reveler said.

Welcome to the Ethereum Community Conference, an annual event that brings the world’s best developers and cryptographers to the City of Light. The event officially kicked off on Tuesday morning, but key industry players arrived in Paris a few days before to take part in side events such as the Metaverse Summit and the Parisian style fair dubbed “The Future of Web3 Content.” And for parties like La Degen and Raave.

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The photo was taken on the way to a secret party in the catacombs of Paris.

anonymous party-goer

EthCC: “Not Bitcoin Miami”

EthCC is sort of the opposite of Bitcoin Miami, the most famous crypto conference.

While Bitcoin Miami has tens of thousands of visitors, EthCC deliberately limited the number of tickets to 2,000 to keep it small and intimate. CNBC spoke to almost a dozen people in Paris who weren’t able to buy a ticket before the event ended but still came to the city to attend all the side events.

“They made it personal and intentionally small because they could easily sell more tickets,” said Samantha Yap, who helps coordinate EthCC.

The event takes place at a difficult time for the crypto industry. Big names like Three Arrows Capital and lenders like Celsius and Voyager Digital have filed for bankruptcy and the ripple effect has been brutal, eroding overall confidence in the sector and questioning the current state of the decentralized finance (or DeFi) ecosystem. .

“I think a lot of the projects were completely empty,” developer Max Saal said of the many companies that came into being in 2021 amid the surge in token prices. “It’s a deterrent for people who… are actually building something real.”

Meanwhile, Ethereum is also on the cusp of a multi-year upgrade that will be its most significant overhaul since the launch of the digital currency nearly a decade ago. There is a lot at stake in this deployment.

Cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin are often criticized for the process of mining to create new coins. Both currently use the so-called proof-of-work mining model, in which miners compete to solve complex mathematical equations using groups of powerful computers.

Ethereum has been working on moving from an energy-intensive proof-of-work method to secure the network to a proof-of-stake model that forces users to use their existing ether cache to validate transactions and create new tokens. . This requires much less power and will result in faster transactions.

Over the past few years, the transition has been delayed several times due to serious shortcomings in implementation. But a series of dress rehearsals over the past few months have shown promising signs that all will be well when the so-called “merger” occurs in September.

If something goes wrong, the question arises what impact it could have on digital assets more broadly. Take DeFi, which aims to recreate traditional financial systems like banks but with cryptocurrencies. They mainly operate on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s unclear what will happen to large swathes of the DeFi ecosystem if something goes wrong with the big switch to Proof-of-Stake later this year.

But the mood on the ground in EthCC is overwhelmingly positive and most people are happy that the bear market means no scammers, because profits cannot be made quickly and easily.

Dani Osorio, who has worked in infrastructure and developer relations for the past few years and also hosted the EthDenver conference earlier this year, told CNBC that there are many blockchain and crypto conferences around the world, but EthCC is the only one to focus on. technical defendants.

“You will see CTOs, technical founders, cryptographers and protocol researchers. This is unheard of,” Osorio said, adding that she met Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in a courtyard in Paris in 2018 during the first EthCC trade show.

Felice Schimmel represents TikTok celebrities and she started down the web3 rabbit hole in November 2021. She came to Paris to better understand the conversations going on between insiders, especially as cryptocurrencies and platforms are becoming more international and this regulation is becoming more and more international. conversation.

“[Web3] allows you to be able to own your fans and followers by allowing you to connect with them without having a platform in the middle of that conversation.”

Even a Czech prince from a 600-year-old noble family in the Czech Republic was unable to buy a ticket before it sold out. But William Lobkowicz, who spent the last year minting his family’s collection of 20,000 cultural objects as NFTs, did come from Prague to talk business with some of the brightest minds in the blockchain ecosystem.

“I come from an industry that is struggling and where radical change is needed for sustainability and sustainability,” he told CNBC. “What if the regular one stops working? »

People don’t talk about price charts or markets on EthCC, but Ether is currently on the rise after a period of falling prices. Ethereum is the native token of the Ethereum blockchain and has risen nearly 40% over the past five days after a long fall when it dropped nearly 70% from its peak in November last year.

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