Sparks, meet lighter fluid.
Jihan Wu, the controversial co-CEO of bitcoin mining hardware maker Bitmain, will discuss the idea of central bank digital currencies in a speech Wednesday, a source told CoinDesk.
Wu is perhaps the most highly-anticipated speaker at the three-day D.C. Blockchain Summit, which kicked off on Tuesday with a developer event.
Named as one of CoinDesk’s Most Influential in Blockchain for 2017, Wu is at the head of the world’s largest provider of bitcoin mining hardware, which analysts have estimated made as much as $4 billion in profits last year, according to Fortune. Depending on who you ask, Wu is either Enemy Number One or, in the words of Roger Ver, someone who has “poured his life and soul into this for years.”
Wu’s chosen topic – central bank-issued digital currencies – is perhaps just as controversial. A number of institutions worldwide have looked at the question of a central bank using the tech that underlies bitcoin to further digitize their money. Yet despite support from quarters of the finance community, observers say that 2018 is unlikely to be the year that such a launch takes place.
DC set for summit
Wu’s appearance forms part of a wider event in D.C., which will see regulators, government officials, startups and business leaders converge to talk blockchain and cryptocurrency.
The conference is being organized by Chamber of Digital Commerce and Georgetown University’s Center for Financial Markets and Policy. In anticipation of the three-day event, the Chamber also released a white paper regarding intellectual property issues and blockchain.
Government officials are also among the notable attendees, including James Sullivan, the deputy assistant secretary for services at the International Trade Administration, which falls within the purview of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Other officials scheduled to speak will be familiar faces to the crypto industry by now, including CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz and Representatives Emmer and Schweikert of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, all of whom have previously weighed in on crypto regulation.
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