Bitcoin (BTC) exists for those who need it most; others may need time to learn. This message resonated in the casino’s conference room during a panel discussion organized by Surfin Bitcoin, a conference dedicated exclusively to bitcoin, in Biarritz, France, on August 26.
The panels Ben Perrin, Bitcoin Youtuber, Ernesto Hernandez, Salvadoran business consultant, and Carol, from the popular Brazilian Youtube channel “Bitcoin Area”, touched on a sensitive topic: “Victims of the banking system around the world: Inflation, Censorship”. Asked role of bitcoin in such test environments.
The panels shared their experiences, testimonies and stories from their respective countries: Perrin from Canada, Hernandez from El Salvador and Carol from Brazil, to address the topic. Hernandez, for example, was quick to point out that bitcoin is not a silver bullet in El Salvador.
The small Central American country introduced the “Bitcoin Law” in 2021, but “let’s not forget that 8 out of 10 Salvadorans were without banks”, he explained. “It’s a big step forward for people to buy a house or even buy groceries,” without having prior knowledge of how banking or financial services work.
In addition, the launch of the government-backed Chivo app was met with criticism and even attacks from protesters. Government enforcement remains under scrutiny. During the Q&A session, Bitcoin podcaster Rikki, who spent 45 days living on bitcoins alone with his partner Laura, asked Hernandez about bitcoin remittances to El Salvador.
Rikki mentioned a report on El Salvador and remittances, which shows, albeit positively, that bitcoin is severely underutilized for remittance payments. Ernesto explained that interest in El Salvador currently comes from foreign investors and bitcoin enthusiasts, as opposed to Salvadoran workers living abroad who send money home. Ultimately, the real challenge is educating Salvadorans on the benefits of using bitcoin as a remittance tool.
Living #Bitcoin but is it possible? We just did it! 45 days traveling around #Elvador spending only bitcoin.
More than 10 cities, hotels, restaurants, breakfasts, cars, gas stations, SIM cards, coffee, drinks and more available thanks to the #Lightning Network ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/QC5ALJNP5s
— Laura Nori ⚡️ (@Lorinaura) January 18, 2022
Live only from #Bitcoin, can you? We just did! 45 days of travel across #ElSalvador spending nothing but bitcoins. 10+ cities, hotels, restaurants, breakfast, cars, gas stations, SIM cards, coffee, drinks and more at your fingertips thanks to the #LightningNetwork ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/QC5ALJNP5s.- Laura Nori ⚡️ (@Lorinaura) January 18, 2022
However, he said with a smile that it is “fun” to see that Salvadorans who have never used banking services in their lives are using bitcoins on the Chivo app, saving and spending money. Moreover, the SEO words “invest in El Salvador” did not exist before the Bitcoin law. Bitcoin really put the country on the world map and, by proxy, the world wide web, he explained.
The “victims” of the banks
Carol, whose YouTube channel recently became a bitcoin-only channel, explained that Brazil’s victimization by central banks is historic. Brazil has had “nine currencies in the last century, eight died from hyperinflation due to money printing and mismanagement”. Moreover, although the Real, the current national currency of Brazil, is 27 years old, it has “already depreciated by 86%”. Bitcoin is a way to escape such a system.
Ben Perrin referred to the “biggest protests in Canadian history”, the demonstrations by Canadian truck drivers, also known as the “freedom convoy”. He pointed out that the banking system sometimes targets specific individuals or groups. Furthermore, he referred to the collusion between the banking system and government:
“The government directly subsidizes our media in Canada. They receive billions of dollars every year. It helps if you have a specific message you want to get across and you’re the one funding those who are responsible for getting that message across to people.”
All that said, he also admitted that the banking system sometimes doesn’t work, and that’s not his fault or any intended consequence. In El Salvador, for example, Hernandez said banks had only seven days to integrate bitcoin into their new system. It is therefore not surprising that the system sometimes makes mistakes, explained Ernesto.
In bear markets
On an optimistic note, Perrin pointed out that markets are well behaved for development and there are great innovations in 2022. Despite this, bitcoin is living in a bubble unknown or ignored by the rest of the world. Carol added that bitcoin is most “under attack” during bear markets, but that gives it time to breathe and reminds people to take their time:
“The fiat mentality is a short-term mindset. Everything is fast and must be now-tomorrow-immediate. Fiat differentiates, but anyone can use bitcoin. When you start thinking about bitcoin, you start thinking about all your options in life.
Carol compared the government’s manipulation of money to a way of manipulating minds. Even in high-inflationary environments, such as in its home country of Brazil, bitcoin adoption is still slow. The challenge for educators like herself, Perrin, and Hernandez, then, is to get people to understand that fiat money has no guarantees.
Also read: Pro-Blockchain narratives are hindering Bitcoin adoption according to StackinSat founder
Finally, Hernandez reiterated that education remains the most important component of bitcoin adoption, but technology remains a challenge. He recalls that “if you grab a knife from the other side, you will cut your hand”. You must learn to use the knife.
He said that small seeds of adoption are germinating in the developing world: he cited the example of Machankura, a company that gives bitcoin by Lightning to those without an internet connection in Africa. The group benefits from it support names like Jack Dorsey.