Regulatory Criticism, Internet Troubles Disrupt Spain’s Biggest Crypto Event
- Speakers included representatives from FTX, KuCoin, Waves and a delegation from El Salvador
- A Spanish regulator warned Mundo Crypto and its sponsors a few days before the event, reminding them that they “have no license to advise on financial instruments or broker investment transactions.”
Spain’s biggest-ever crypto event encountered a number of obstacles last week, including less than positive press from a regulator and internet troubles that thwarted a Guinness World Record attempt.
Blockchain education platform Mundo Crypto, the host of the event, intended to give a live virtual reality (VR) presentation about their upcoming learn-to-earn metaverse, which aims to bring their 2D online courses to 3D – Transfer Metaverse offers.
Nearly 7,000 virtual reality headsets were distributed to attendees — an attempt to break the record for the most people using VR displays at once — but internet connection issues thwarted the company’s plans.
Founder Mani Thawani instead took the stage in person at the indoor sports arena in Madrid, Spain rather than his avatar speaking to the audience through the headsets.
“Cryptocurrencies represent freedom. And we know that the expression of freedom converges in the metaverse,” Thawani said, explaining his vision of “responsible massive adoption.” He intends the Mundo Crypto metaverse to be an educational and virtual “gateway to an industry unknown to many.”
Leading up to Thawani’s presentation, attendees heard panels from companies including FTX, KuCoin and Waves; European economists; crypto influencers like Brock Pierce; and even a delegation from El Salvador. The spectacular event also included a car giveaway, magic show and crypto jeopardy deposits.
What does it take to host such a big event during a bear market? In this case, 2 million euros and official intervention.
A few days before the event, the Spanish National Securities Markets Commission (CNMV) warned and reminded Mundo Crypto and its sponsors that they “have no license to advise on financial instruments or to broker investment transactions”.
Mundo Crypto has had a spot on the CNMV’s “grey list” since July 2021, which includes companies not registered with the regulator “that could engage in any type of fundraising activity or provide financial services.”
Thawani told Blockworks the resulting media attention has had both positive and negative implications. “Thanks to all the published news, we managed to spread the word about the crypto industry and arouse more curiosity. The negative is that many speakers and sponsors have dropped out due to media and political pressure,” he said.
Binance and PlayStation withdrew as sponsors at the last minute. Police and paramedics parked in front of the WiZink Center for the nearly 7-hour “Metaverse Day.”
Despite the controversy, some attendees found the event — tailored for consumers just starting out in crypto — refreshing.
Unlike crypto events like ETHBCN or Solana Breakpoint, which focus on developers, the Mundo Crypto event “focused on a beginner who is researching cryptocurrencies, has friends who have spoken about it, or is following an influencer” , Xavier Molina , Manager of FTX for the Iberia region, to Blockworks.
“I think they wanted to put on a show and they did it,” he said. “It was the biggest cryptocurrency show hosted in Spain. Most of the criticism came from the crypto community itself, mostly from veterans. But they have to understand that it was a different target group.”
Sasha Ivanov, CEO and founder of the Waves protocol, offered some advice to blockchain beginners who attended the event: “Stop trading so much. Instead, pick a project you enjoy and understand how it works. Participate in the community.”
“Blockchain technology needs to be used every day, not just for commerce. The next step is to make blockchains ubiquitous,” he added.
The Mundo Crypto team decided after the event to reimburse buyers for the cost of their ticket – 49.35 euros – regardless of whether they attended the event or not.
The interviews in this article were conducted in Spanish.
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