Bitcoin in Brazil: Less Buzz, More Building (and beaches)
Hi everyone, Gabe with Coinapult here. I’m writing this post sitting with new friends on the Leblon beach in Rio de Janeiro, after wrapping up the 2nd Latin American Bitcoin conference this past weekend. Old school pen and paper has its advantages, sometimes.
I, along with Coinapult, also attended last year’s LABitconf in Buenos Aires. There were a number of thoughts that particularly struck me through the conference, especially in relation to the contrast to last year, and I thought I would share.
Hype was Low, Focus on Infrastructure was High
At last year’s event, the Bitcoin price was near $800-$850 after recently breaking through $1,000. A lot of focus and energy at the conference last year was spent discussing the price action, when we were going to break through $1,000 again, etc. This year, the price is obviously lower, and the crowd certainly was less interested in price-pumping.
That being the case, all those who were in attendance were dead-set on building the Bitcoin network, not guessing on bitcoin prices. The number of companies attending, particularly local companies, was much larger than last year, even with less total attendees. FoxBit, CoinBR, SatoshiTango, FlowBTC and others made a strong turnout. Ultimately it’s infrastructure, not hype, that will build the Bitcoin economy, and the hardcore entrepreneurs and developers were busy taking advantage of this.
Local Solutions for the Brazilian Bitcoin Economy
It was great to see so many new companies, especially Brazilian companies, focused on solving local problems for Bitcoin adoption. Of course, the major global companies that we all know and love in the Bitcoin ecosystem were there as well, but even a global currency and payment network will still require local solutions to truly become universally used and accepted.
A terrific example for this would be the Brazilian payment method called Boleto. A Boleto is a paper invoice used throughout the country for paying for all sorts of goods and services; utility bills, top ups, online shopping, B2B invoices, etc. It is hugely popular throughout Brazil, and doesn’t really have an equivalent in most other countries. Local companies like Coinverse now make it possible for Brazilians to make these Boleto payments, funded with Bitcoin. We actually used the service to pay local suppliers for our conference giveaways.
Brazilians know Bitcoin, and the potential is HUGE
After spending some time talking with local businesses, beachgoers, and others, many Brazilians are definitely familiar with Bitcoin. The community overall is very friendly and open as part of their culture, and bringing up a the discussion of a cryptocurrency was met with warm reception rather than skeptical dismissal.
Argentina is often the go-to example of Bitcoin in Latin America, and for good reason, but Brazil clearly has huge untapped potential. Arming 100 million internet users and 280 million cell phones with Bitcoin wallets could quickly make Brazil one of the largest Bitcoin markets in the world.
The Bitcoin Argentina Foundation deserves a ton of credit for helping their fellow Brazilian Foundation throw this event and increase awareness. With more education and effort like this, Brazil can become a Bitcoin powerhouse.
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