Istanbul at center of Cosmos for three days

As 2023 draws to a close, Istanbul has positioned itself as the go-to hub for crypto conferences. The city is set to host several major crypto events this November, including Binance Blockchain Week (which is actually only 2 days long) and the Ethereum-centric DevConnect. But if the number two and three crypto assets by market cap (excluding stablecoins) were considered the main course, the appetizer would be Cosmoverse.

Now in its third year, the Cosmos community-driven event was bustling with scores of ecosystem teams in evidence looking to capture mindshare. There was little sign of a bear market, as the conference mood was decidedly upbeat. Attendance was up year-over-year, with estimates coming in at over 2,000.

As a city whose Bosphorus bridge joins Europe and Asian continents, Istanbul is geographically well-placed to attract attendees from both the East and West.

View westward from the rooftop restaurant; Source: Blockworks

The Swisshotel Bosphorus managed to feel both spacious and compact, with most of the action split across three floors, with some areas featuring spectacular views of Istanbul’s harbor. It was easy to duck in and out of the main stage, which showcased a stacked program of keynotes and panels from 9 or 10 am GMT until early evening.

The adjacent lounges, where coffee and snacks were always on offer, segued into a handful of special purpose conference rooms. These hosted media and side events, such as one presenting what Agoric called AppJam, and another streaming in guests for talks that could not be held in person.

Upstairs, the exhibition hall of booths provided a mini headquarters for conference participants to schmooze with peers and users alike…and have some fun.

The ball pit; Source: Yap Global

Merger intrigue

On the sidelines of the conference, stakeholders of the Cosmos Hub and other key pieces of infrastructure are discussing the prospects for governance proposals to unify parts of the ecosystem.

The first to be formalized into a public proposal is from the Stride Labs team, whose pitch to integrate completely into the Hub, rather than remain a consumer chain, was presented Wednesday. The public discussions follow weeks of internal deliberations and preliminary negotiations in Istanbul on Tuesday, Stride Labs co-founder Aidan Salzmann told Blockworks.

Panelists from Stride Labs, Informal Systems and Sommelier closed out the conference; Source: Yap Global

The idea now moves to community forums for further discussion and refinement. Some early reactions are skeptical — as STRD holders worry that an exchange for ATOM will undervalue the independent liquid staking protocol.

Bringing Bitcoin to Cosmos

Several developer teams debuted products that were either newly launched or coming soon. This contributed to a general feeling that Cosmos may be on the cusp of providing something novel enough to pull in fresh capital and users.

For instance, bitcoin holders will soon have a new decentralized option to deploy capital in Cosmos and earn staking yield. 

Nomic, with its nBTC slated for activation on Oct. 30, has a leg up on wrapped bitcoin (WBTC) which uses a centralized custodian, plus a bridge to reach Cosmos. Instead, bitcoin holders will be able to deposit into Nomic directly and use the IBC-compatible nBTC anywhere in the Cosmos ecosystem.

Nomic makes use of Bitcoin’s 2021 Taproot upgrade to deliver features that Matt Bell, CEO of software development company Turbofish, thinks will allay the fears of Bitcoiners.

“One of the big tight integrations with Bitcoin that adds security here is our emergency dispersal mechanism,” Bell told Blockworks. “Like if something went wrong, even if the Nomic network disappeared, the default is the funds go back to the nBTC holders on the Bitcoin blockchain.”

Nomic requires only 10% of its validator set to be honest to ensure the safety of the bridge, according to Bell.

Cosmos DEX Osmosis demonstrated how users will be able to deposit and withdraw Bitcoin directly within the Osmosis dapp.

Bell is optimistic that a meaningful percentage of bitcoin holders will find Nomic appealing.

“Clearly, there are Bitcoin holders who want to take some amount of risk and earn on their Bitcoin,” he said.

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