Cryptocurrency fever is making a comeback in New York during Consensus 2019, the largest trade fair in the world dedicated to this type of currency and blockchain technology, with the gathering taking place as the price of Bitcoin rebounds to $8,082 per unit, the highest level in 10 months.
While the benchmark cryptocurrency is still trading at a price that is 5.8 percent below the level a year ago - and far from the record $20,000 that it hit in December 2017 - the rebound in the price is due, in part, to the buzz around Consensus, where leading companies in the blockchain area are unveiling new products that use the cutting-edge technology, with one firm planning to give away a kilo of gold.
Novem Gold Company, a business based in Liechtenstein, launched a marketing promotion at Consensus 2019, giving one gram of LBMA-certified gold to each of the first 1,000 attendees who visit the company's booth and can answer a basic question about the Novem NNN gold tokens project.
"Novem Gold is here to offer a better path to digital gold ownership on the blockchain, more connected to physical gold and more redeemable than any other gold token," Novem Gold CEO Andreas Kalteis said in a statement. "We are happy to meet with so many leading innovators at Consensus and think the 1kg gold giveaway is a fun incentive and a way to drive home our central point - owning Novem NNN gold tokens is owning gold."
Kalteis told EFE that Novem Gold's product was distinguished by its liquidity and ease of international transfer, unlike physical gold, which is hard to move around.
The transaction costs for small amounts of gold are also sometimes higher than the potential profit, making Novem's digital gold product a better deal for investors who have smaller amounts of the precious metal to trade.
Cryptocurrencies are not backed by a central bank or sovereign issuer, depending, instead, on blockchain technology, which consists of a book of records that is not susceptible to modification, thus keeping users' information secure.
Thousands of attendees, who used to suffer from gold "fever" and are now once again smitten by Bitcoin, are visiting the booths of cryptocurrency companies exhibiting their products at the New York Hilton Midtown, handing out business cards and learning about the latest innovations at IBM and Microsoft, which are also working with blockchain technology to develop new applications.
Blockchain is also being incorporated into smartphones, with the HTC Exodus 1 using the technology to protect users' data and even keep personal information out of reach of the device's Android operating system.
Some of the companies exhibiting at Consensus 2019 aspire to "transform" the real estate industry and the rental market.
Kahuna, for example, used a technology based on the software architecture of the Ethereum digital currency to create an app that lets landlords list rental properties and manage the profiles and credit histories of potential tenants.
Payments, moreover, can be made using the app's own currency, making them "frictionless and traceable."
Consensus 2019 has led to a recovery in cryptocurrencies on the financial markets after a slump that lasted more than a year and saw Bitcoin, the best known digital currency, lose 80 percent of its value in 2018, according to a study released on Tuesday by digital currency brokerage HiveEx.com.
So far this year, the market capitalization - the total value of all the coins in circulation - has risen 50 percent to $189.24 billion, a level that is still well below the Jan. 8, 2018, record market cap of $833 billion, HiveEx.com CEO Fred Schebesta told EFE.
In response to a question about whether trade tensions and instability had helped cryptocurrencies recover, Schebesta said that in countries experiencing high levels of instability, such as Venezuela, the market "has increased twentyfold" due to the ease with which digital currencies can be moved across international borders.
Mati Greenspan, an analyst with eToro, said gold was rising along with cryptocurrencies, showing that investors do not favor one asset class over the other, and that the trade tensions between the United States and China may not have been such a big factor in the digital currency rebound.
Greenspan noted that "the Consensus effect" may be behind the rise in cryptocurrency prices.
"Last but not least, the Consensus effect. We've seen several times in the past where the largest crypto gathering in the world has had a significant effect on the price. So for all of our colleagues, clients, friends and partners in New York. Enjoy the convention!!" Greenspan said.