Central Bank of Argentina seriously considering Bitcoin

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

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Wall Street experts say the new decentralized currency Bitcoin could possibly hit $100,000. Austrian economist and U.S. Presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul said Bitcoin could “destroy the dollar.”

Bitcoin users and businesses are rallying worldwide as interest continues to rapidly expand. Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar president of Argentina Bitcoin Foundation talks about the first Latin American Bitcoin conference which this weekend in Buenos Aires Argentina and his discussion with a surprise attendee the Central Bank of Argentina.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: Wall Street experts say the new, decentralized currency, Bitcoin, could possibly hit $100,000. Austrian economist and U.S. presidential candidate, Congressmen Ron Paul, said Bitcoin could actually destroy the dollar. Bitcoin users and businesses are rallying worldwide as interests continue to rapidly expand.

The first Latin American Bitcoin conference happened this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With over 25 international speakers, here to join us is the president of the Argentinian Bitcoin Foundation, Diego Guteirrez Zaldivar. And Diego, it’s good to have you with us from Buenos Aires, today.

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: Thank you, Kurt for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss, you know, Bitcoin.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: Well, thank you very much for being with us. And tell us a little bit about the conference that happened this weekend in Buenos Aires.

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: Well, I think what happened in Buenos Aires is something that it will be — an event that will be recorded in history, okay?

We had, you know, almost 30 speakers from all over the world, and they were the most relevant people in the Bitcoin and consistent these days. You had from interpreters to people starting Bitcoin from a theoretical perspective to people doing, you know, social work with Bitcoin to start house. Everything was there. And it was the objective to bring to Latin America the concept in Bitcoin in the wider way possible.

I mean, we wanted to have all the points of view present at the conference. We even had people that is working on the regulatory aspects of Bitcoin, as well, who are totally being there at the hearings in the U.S., was here, and it was fantastic — not only because of the content — but also because of the vibe that was around the conference.

Everybody was generous with their time and was really amazing, and I think it will foster Bitcoin in Latin America in ways we cannot even imagine at this point.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: You have the Argentinian Bitcoin Foundation, the Uruguay Bitcoin Foundation, Chile and Colombia — it looks like it’s really growing there. Could you give us a scope and size of the Bitcoin community in South America?

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: Yes. We started in Argentina last year and, you know, we started more from the community. We think this is a grassroots movement and foundations are more the final result of ground base work, so in Argentina we started doing meet ups every month, every three weeks and people started — maybe we were like seven/20 — and people in every meet up and eventually we find out we had good people on the meantime, because the media has started to give us more coverage. And then we realize — we, you know, eventually, you know, money was getting to us — and there was some profit, and we didn’t want to keep these on an individual level. We wanted to create something that will transcend our individual realities, so the foundation in Argentina was the consequence of that process. But, from the early beginning, our goal was not only to create an Argentinian community but also to create a Latin American community of Bitcoiners.

And I also started traveling to Chile to Uruguay and to connect with the scattered Bitcoiners that were doing things individually and to put them together to create that community, and as you say, now we have a very nice community in Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and some smaller ones are just picking up in Costa Rica, Ecuador. And then we have the Brazilian one that is fragmented to pity but, you know, you have some internal issues among the members and so we are, you know, from the foundation, we are also working to help them work together. So, I think Latin America is picking up pretty fast. I’m amazed what we have done in the last eight months.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: What kind of investments are happening in South America regarding Bitcoin?

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: I think this conference in particular will bring a lot of investments.

So far, it was more like local entrepreneurs or local companies adopting Bitcoin or creating their own Bitcoin startups and some local embassies were also aiding in that some local projects also got investment from U.S. embassies [inaudible]…you know, but everything was like, you know, very early stages, but in this conference, like big investors arrive and were interacting with the locals, and I think that will create a big spread of Bitcoin projects in the region. I think there are a couple of big payment networks that are coming to Latin and this was the opportunity for them to know who is who in the local communities.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: You mentioned regulations earlier. How are the various governments receiving Bitcoin at this point, in South America?

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: They are not. (Laughs)

I mean, it’s not that they are going against it, but in this conference, that’s also a very good thing. In this conference, I got the first contact from the Central Bank of Argentina to start talking about how we can, you know, integrate Bitcoin into the Argentinian economy. So, we are starting that dance with regulators about, you know, what is Bitcoin? Because, of course, the first step is to teach them about Bitcoin and make them literate on Bitcon and then the following step would be defining how they will regulate their Bitcoin, but we are just starting that process.

In a new way, they started the other way around. I mean, they had a contact with regulators before they had a community. When I go to the first meeting, I am organizing in Montevallo; I had the presence of one of the persons involved in regulations in Uruguay, so the institutional relationships started before the community in Montevallo.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: So, the central bank of Argentina is seriously considering Bitcoin? Could you tell us more about this?

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: Well, they do and indeed, during the conference, I had this nice lady — like three roasts after the front of the conference, and she was mostly, I mean, she was from the early beginning of the conference until 4 p.m. and when you had the break, she approached me and said, “You know, wonderful conference. I’m from the Central Bank of Argentina. I’m doing a report on Bitcoin. I congratulate you for the professional work you did with the conference and so on, and we are really interested in seeing how we can, you know, include these in our policies and how will Bitcoin interact with us.

So that’s, for me, a big step for Bitcoin, and of course, we need to keep with conversations but that’s an amazing milestone for Bitcoin in Argentina, for sure.

Kurt Wallace for Rare: Diego Guteirrez Zaldivar, president of the Argentinian Bitcoin Foundation, thank you for spending some time with us today on Rare.

Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar: Thank you very much, Kurt, for having me here and anything you need to know about at the time, here I am on Bitcoin.

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