Ricardo Salinas Pliego: When inside men disclose the truth — Titan Profiles #1
Ricardo Salinas Pliego is a renowned Mexican businessman and the country’s third-richest man. But most importantly, he’s a Bitcoin supporter. He’s the founder and president of Grupo Salinas, a massive corporate conglomerate with operations across the continent. Among the companies therein, we can find Banco Azteca, Mexico’s fifth-largest bank. And Salinas Pliego is determined to turn it into the first in Mexico to accept Bitcoin.
The banker who knew too much
Salinas Pliego started his career in 1981 by joining Grupo Elektra, his grandfather’s company, as an Imports Manager. He became the company director six years later, in ’87. Under his leadership, the company avoided bankruptcy by a deep restructuring and a new business model: low margins, strict cash management, and a new product line. A few years later, and after venturing into the telecommunications industry, Grupo Elektra applied for a banking license. The state of Mexico granted it in 2002. Thus, Banco Azteca was born.
Curiously enough, the Mexican tycoon is critical of the system in which his own company plays a crucial role. In an interview with Chainbytes’ José Rodriguez, he called out the current monetary system: “Fraud is inherent to the fiat system,” he asserted. “We’re seeing it right now in the USA. Monetary emission went to the moon. The US dollar as hard money is a joke”.
Bitcoin as a store of value: Is it modern-day gold?
Needless to say, if there’s anyone who knows about monetary policies, it’s bankers. What is odd is seeing someone from the inside (and as well-known as Salinas Pliego, for that matter) publicly denouncing the flaws of the very same financial system they sustain.
So, fiat money is trash. We’ve established that. But could Bitcoin replace it as money? To Salinas Pliego, that’s not the point: “Whether Bitcoin is money or not doesn’t help the debate nor the understanding of it. I believe that Bitcoin is an asset, one with extraordinary properties.” Among those, he listed its divisibility, its way of transmission, and its ease of storage without counterparty risks (another slam on banks!).
Banco Azteca’s owner is convinced about Bitcoin: “It is gold for the modern world. It’s an asset that has international value, traded with enormous liquidity worldwide. That’s why it should be on every investor’s portfolio.” Establishing a clear differentiation with fiat money, he emphasized that scarcity and the 21 million supply cap are vital to understanding Bitcoin’s value.
So why not gold then? The main advantage of Bitcoin against gold, according to the Mexican businessman, is in physicality: “The problem with gold is where to store it. Precious metals’ custody is a very delicate subject.” Indeed, Bitcoin is much more convenient to move and transfer, especially during troubled times. “In a situation of political, social, and financial turbulence, you’d be much better off to run away with your Bitcoin than with a handful of gold bars.” After forty years in the industry, Salinas Pliego knows very well what he’s talking about.
The need for privacy
When asked about other cryptocurrencies, Salinas Pliego didn’t hesitate to mention Monero and Zcash. According to him, their privacy features are of utmost importance.
“There’s a big risk with Bitcoin, which is that government cavemen dislike it because it enables people to escape their fiat tramp and fraud” (wouldn’t a banker know about that). He thinks that the people in power can declare Bitcoin illegal with ease, although he doubts that would be its end. However, being traceable, privacy and anonymity become central in that scenario.
“If I send you a coin, you automatically know my wallet. You can see how much I got, whom I’ve paid and from whom I’ve received money. It’s not private at all, which isn’t very nice”.
The dream to become the first Bitcoin bank in Mexico
Addressing the inflation problem — which seems to be a hot topic worldwide these days — Salinas Pliego announced through Twitter that his bank was working on bringing cryptocurrency to their clients. The ultimate goal, according to him, was to “keep promoting freedom.”
He even had a playful exchange with Michael Saylor, in which they praised Bitcoin and mocked gold for being an impractical store of value. Sorry, Peter Schiff!
Nevertheless, it’s still odd that the owner of one of the largest banks in Mexico has such hostile comments towards the financial, monetary system, where institutions like his play a central role. People remain suspicious, as this is not the first controversy starring Salinas Pliego.
Only time will tell if he genuinely strives for freedom or if it was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Be that as it may, Salinas Pliego hit the nail right in the head with his testimony. And the fact that he knows fiat and the system from very deep inside does nothing but adding even more meaning to his words.