ON the cusp of a Blockchain revolution, Latin AMerica is set to prosper.
As I write this blog post, I'm currently sitting in the lobby of a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, where economic turmoil has hit the city hard and the people are yearning for a way out. However, I'm not writing this just to discuss Argentina. Panama and Colombia are also critical aspects to this blogs topic. My current business trip over the past two weeks has taken me to 3 fabulous countries facing different challenges. So what's the common denominator? Blockchain.
1. Medellín, Colombia
The first stop on my trip was the City of Eternal Spring; Medellín. This city is truly fascinating and has been experiencing tremendous growth in tourism, franchise businesses, clean energy (solar and hydro), and foreign investments. It is also one of the few cities in Latin America that I feel completely safe, despite it's old, infamous title of being "The Murder Capital of the World". But don't worry! Fast-forward 30 years to today, and it's one of the most opportunistic cities in the world.
Despite my admiration for the city, the country still struggles with political corruption and a banking system that has a tight grip on the economy. This has been driving public interest in financial technology, such as Blockchain tech. After having a successful series of meetings with Manticora Capital, I became more convinced of the necessity of cryptos like Bitcoin in Colombia. The people are looking for a way to grow beyond it's horrendous past, to further stomp out the illegal drug trade, and to gain personal sovereignty in a country full of political corruption.
Another note: The Colombian government has been seeking further guidance on Blockchain tech and will likely pass legislation to incentivize Blockchain startups to move to Medellín in the near future. Tax breaks. Regulatory sandboxes. You name it. Expect major advances in 2019.
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The next stop on my trip was the once wealthy city of Buenos, Aires. It's almost sad to walk around and see such amazing French and Spanish architecture among the city, only to realize that Argentinian paychecks are getting hammered. The currency crisis has hit the citizens hard and it looks like the pain will continue for quite a while. Despite the hardships, the opportunity to invest in USD is unbelievable.
A gourmet meal in USD is $8.00, a Latte is $2.00, a brand new modern apartment with all the bells-and-whistles is $120k. If it's this amazing of a deal of an American to invest, then you can imagine how hard it has been for the citizens. With that struggle has also came demand for change, and not just in politics. Many citizens here have been opening themselves up to Blockchain tech, buying Bitcoin to protect their wealth, importing crypto ATMs, launching exchanges, and even paying for Uber rides with Bitcoin (despite the harsh pushback from the taxi union).
For a country that is struggling, the people seem resilient and opportunistic. To me, this is a great sign for a continent that is on the verge of "flipping-the-hemispheres". By this I mean that America's economy is in trouble, and the emerging economies of Latin America are beginning to surge as developing countries. Opportunities like this are rare, and Blockchain tech startups are going to catch a big wave of innovation.
3. Panama City, Panama
Lastly, I can't forget to mention Panama City. While I haven't spent significant time there on this trip, I have in the past. All you need to know about Panama is that it's growing into a massive international destination between 2 continents. It's fast-paced, tied to the USD (obviously worth debating the cons on this), filled with young, latin entrepreneurs, and is attracting a massive amount of foreign wealth.
Here's my conclusion. Latin America in general is about to experience a renaissance in technology that will lead to an economic boom equivalent to the kinetic energy of a meteor before impact. Seriously. Blockchain tech can solve many problems and it can force a monopolized system to go extinct (e.g. SWIFT, Central Banks, Wall Street, Political Corruption). I'm betting big on Latin America and I think you should as well.
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