The Unexpected Centers of Crypto Innovation

tl;dr: Some areas look at crypto-technologies as a threat. Others see it as an opportunity. Here we look at a few geographies that are trying to capitalize on the game-changing nature of blockchains.

One of the things I love about crypto, in particular, is how it is changing the balance of power in traditional technology start-ups.

For the past 20–40 years, the ever more concentration of wealth and power in Silicon Valley made it the de facto location for technology innovation. It was a “rich get richer” scenario.

Crypto is different.

True to its decentralized roots and having its birth in a world that is already networked, we’ve seen more innovation take place outside of Silicon Valley than in it.

I think this is a good thing. It leads to diversity of thought as well as greater options for people to achieve work-life balance. People are leaving California as they see other options available to them.

There are a few areas that I am watching in particular.

Crypto Valley

I have to put this first as it is the “mack daddy” of this post.

Crypto Valley was the first place I recognized where an emerging economy was taking shape. Zug was early to the game and it is innovative and opening approach to blockchain/crypto put it on the map.

That led to the creation of Crypto Explorers and the 5 trips we took with over 200 enthusiasts from around the world.

Today, I think Crypto Valley has lost a bit of its luster and first-mover advantage. However, Switzerland definitely has a chance to be the leader among its group of wealthier, more industrialized nations.

In fact, just the other day, there was a multi-million dollar real estate transaction on the blockchain conducted by Swiss firms.

Latin America

I outlined this in the “Crypto Bolivar” Thesis.

I am watching this are closely, particularly Venezuela and Argentina.

Thailand

This one caught me off guard when I heard about it the other day. Apparently, the Thai version of the SEC has approved the use of 6 different currencies for ICO participation.

It seems that Thailand views crypto as a way to drive economic growth as a country. They have approved tokenized securities as well.

I actually know a fair number of crypto people who domicile in Bangkok and love it.

Wyoming

I’ve touched on this before in the post, 6 Reasons Why Crypto is Booming in the Rocky Mountains, but what is happening there is really impressive.

For a deep dive, read Caitlin Long’s piece, What Do Wyoming’s 13 New Blockchain Laws Mean?

They are trying to become a combination of the “Delaware” of blockchain (in terms of jurisdiction) and the “Sioux Falls” of blockchain (in terms of crypto financial services).

Honorable Mentions

I’ve written about Liechtenstein’s efforts already and there’s plenty of activity in Malta and Gibraltar as well.

Of course, there’s a lot of innovation in more traditional locations such as Silicon Valley, New York, Berlin, Singapore, and Tel Aviv. That won’t go away, but as we can see, it is getting diffused.

Economic Power Shifts Slowly

All of the changes we are experiencing now are happening gradually. Very few things happen suddenly.

The infiltration of AI into our lives is one them. The slow but steady ascent of crypto is another.

Perhaps in 20 or 30 years, we’ll look back and be amazed at the way that economic power and influence have become decentralized to some of these new areas.

Note: yes, I get the irony of the title. It’s deliberate.

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