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If you're on the fence about the Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo kicking off this afternoon in Raleigh, we'll help you out.

Here's a rundown of the most exciting speakers, panels and events happening at the first-of-its-kind bitcoin educational event in the Triangle, with a little context for why you might (or should) care. We'll also be there to report back on the discussions, innovations and thoughts shared.

More than 400 people are expected to attend the two-day event at the Raleigh Convention Center, and they're coming from Germany, Toronto, Silicon Valley, Houston, New York and throughout the Southeast. But one trend you'll likely notice, is that many of these people and companies are located right here in the Triangle.

Biggest name attendees:

Adam Draper, who runs an investment firm and accelerator in Silicon Valley investing in 100 bitcoin companies by 2017. He's also the son of famous venture capitalist Tim Draper, notorious in recent months for buying up 30,000 Silk Road bitcoins at a U.S. Marshals auction. (Our initial story on Draper here.)

Edmund Moy previously ran the U.S. Mint and has been among the most high-profile and vocal supporters for digital currencies. He'll keynote Saturday night's dinner and talk about regulatory issues that afternoon. (Our initial story here.)

Perianne Boring, a former Capitol Hill analyst, Forbes columnist and author of the industry blog Boring Bitcoin Report, she recently founded the Chamber of Digital Commerce to represent the bitcoin industry in Washington. She'll share the role her organization is playing in promoting the regulation of cryptocurrencies. (Though I'm told she's not a fan of New York's proposed regulation.)

Local players:

Phil Champagne, managing director of Raleigh-based real estate investment firm Wren Investment Group wrote The Book of Satoshi, a collection of emails and forum posts written by Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto as he created the cryptocurrency. Champagne became interested in Bitcoin in 2012. He blogs on the subject here.

Duke University finance professor Campbell Harvey has recently added Bitcoin to his areas of expertise, teaching finance and entrepreneurship students about the cryptocurrency during his annual course. Harvey is an internationally-known expert on portfolio management, asset allocation, gold and currency. He wrote The New York Times Dictionary of Money and Investing and served as editor of the Journal of Finance from 2006 to 2012.

Reed Jewelers is a Wilmington company and the first jeweler to begin accepting Bitcoin as payment. Executives Mitch Kahn and Bradley Zimmer will give a talk about the decision they consider a competitive advantage in their industry.

Local angel investors David Gardner and Mark Easley will serve as speakers and moderators. Neither have made an investment in a Bitcoin company, but they are clearly interested in the growing industry and have knowledge to share about how they'll vet deals around it.

Startups:

BitPay of Atlanta is a sponsor of the event, and a leader in bitcoin payment processing. Former Triangle entrepreneur Eric Martindale joined the company in January and will represent at the conference. According to LinkedIn, he serves as the company's Wrangler of Hackers. Martindale was a co-founder and CTO of local startup trinket (previously Coursefork) and still sits on its advisory board. For nine years, he ran RolePlayGateway in the Triangle and he also cofounded LocalSense.

Two dozen startups will pitch today at a noon showcase. Half of those companies come from North Carolina, and four from inside the Triangle. Most are brand new companies. In fact, a Burlington, N.C. startup called BIGBullion, a new cryptocurrency backed by precious metals, launches today at the conference (and is live streaming the launch on its website).

We'll be interested to learn more about BitStrap.co, a local startup forming out of nFocus Labs by Shannon Code, head of security for the Mastercoin Foundation. He describes it on an AngelList profile as "The Cryptocoin Cloud."

Another compelling startup at the showcase is California-based Ribbit.me, a not-yet-launched marketplace for buying and selling goods or donating to causes which promises that it accepts more crypto currencies than any other site.

New York-based MyPowers lets celebrities and brands create coins that can be purchased by fans to unlock access to exclusive content, downloads or products. It's an example of Bitcoin 2.0, using the bitcoin protocol to deliver goods and services securely.

And a just-launched Berlin company called Swarm Corp. will talk about its crowdfunding platform, which allows people to create and launch campaigns around their own digital currencies, and sell shares.

Panels:

It's always good to know who is behind the money. Cryptolina attracted a group of investors interested in the space: Jonathan Silverman, a Duke graduate, former trader and now partner at New York's Sator Square Partners, Matthew Roszak of Toronto's Tally Capital and Aaron Gatti of MyPowers and an entrepreneur-in-residence at the high-profile New York firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures, which just raised a fourth fund of $62 million.

Crowdfunding and Bitcoin are growing in tandem and often overlapping and a panel around that brings together local crowdlending startup Groundfloor and startup consultant (and previous crowdfunding startup head) Steve Reaser, with Berlin's Swarm and Adam Draper.

There's a regulatory panel with Moy and a handful of lawyers and accountants.

And tomorrow night is The Great Bitcoin 2.0 Debate, moderated by local resident Todd Erickson, who serves on the regulatory affairs committee of the Bitcoin Foundation. Expect this to cover the opportunities that come as companies and people begin to create their own digital currencies using the bitcoin block chain, as well as the concerns of regulators and financial institutions.

For more details and the full schedule, click here.

Read ExitEvent content partner WRAL TechWire's preview here.

If you attend the event, let us know what you think. We'll be summing it all up next week, and would love feedback!