Regulatory Criticism, Internet Troubles Disrupt Spain’s Largest Crypto Event

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Speakers included representatives from FTX, KuCoin, Waves and a delegation from El Salvador
A Spanish regulator issued a warning to Mundo Crypto and its sponsors a few days before the event, reminding them they are “not licensed to advise on financial instruments or broker investment transactions.”

Spain’s largest-ever crypto event was met with a few obstacles last week, including not-so-favorable press from a regulator and internet issues that thwarted a Guinness World Record attempt.

Blockchain education platform Mundo Crypto, the event host, intended to deliver a live virtual reality (VR) presentation about its upcoming learn-to-earn metaverse, which aims to transfer its 2D online courses to 3D metaverse offerings.

The VR headsets distributed to event attendees | Photo: Ornella Hernandez

Almost 7,000 virtual reality headsets were distributed to attendees — a stab at breaking the record for the most people simultaneously using VR displays — but internet connection issues disrupted the company’s plans.

Founder Mani Thawani instead took the stage in person at the indoor sporting arena in Madrid, Spain, instead of 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 for “responsible massive adoption.” He intends for the Mundo Crypto metaverse to be an educational and virtual “gateway to an industry unknown to many.” 

Leading up to Thawani’s presentation, attendees listened to panels featuring companies such as FTX, KuCoin and Waves; European economists; crypto influencers including Brock Pierce; and even a delegation from El Salvador. The spectacle-like event also included a car giveaway, a magic show and crypto jeopardy interludes. 

What does it take to put on such a grand-scale event during a bear market? In this case, 2 million euros and regulatory intervention.

A few days before the event, Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) issued a warning to Mundo Crypto and its sponsors, reminding them they are “not licensed to advise on financial instruments or broker investment transactions.”

Mundo Crypto has held a spot on the CNMV’s “gray list” since July 2021, which includes entities not registered with the regulatory body “that could be carrying out any type of fundraising activity or providing any financial service.”

Thawani told Blockworks the resulting media attention had both positive and negative effects. “Thanks to all the news published, we have managed to make the crypto industry more known and to start generating more curiosity. The negative is that many speakers and sponsors dropped due to media and political pressure” he said.

Binance and PlayStation pulled out as sponsors at the last minute. Police and paramedics were parked outside of the WiZink Center for the nearly 7-hour “Metaverse Day.” 

WiZink Center | Photo: Ornella Hernandez

Despite the controversy, some attendees found the event — tailored to consumers just starting out in crypto — refreshing.

As opposed to crypto events such as ETHBCN or Solana Breakpoint, which center developers, the Mundo Crypto event “focused on a novice user who is researching about cryptocurrencies, who has friends who have talked about it, or who follows some influencer,” Xavier Molina, FTX’s manager for the Iberia region, told Blockworks.

“I think they wanted to give a show and they did it,” he said. “It was the biggest cryptocurrency show that has been put on in Spain. Most of the criticism came from the crypto community itself, mostly veteran people. But they must understand that it had a different target audience.”

Sasha Ivanov, CEO and founder of Waves protocol, offered some advice to blockchain beginners attending the event: “Stop trading so much. Instead, pick up a project you like and understand how it works. Participate in the community.”

“Blockchain technology needs to be used everyday, not just for trading. The next step is to make blockchains ubiquitous,” he added.

The Mundo Crypto team decided post-event to refund buyers the cost of their ticket — 49.35 euros — whether they attended the event or not.

Interviews in this article were conducted in Spanish.

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Ornella Hernandez

Blockworks

Reporter

Ornella is a Miami-based multimedia journalist covering NFTs, the metaverse and DeFi. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported for Cointelegraph and has also worked for TV outlets such as CNBC and Telemundo. She originally began investing in ethereum after hearing about it from her dad and hasn’t looked back. She speaks English, Spanish, French and Italian. Contact Ornella at [email protected]

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