Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bitcoin in Buenos Aires: La BITconf


La BitConf was a conference held the first weekend of November in the center of Buenos Aires concerning Bitcoin (BTC) and the crypto currency. Several influential speakers who are key players in the development and progression of this new, revolutionary currency presented their new advances with BTC, security around it, side-chains to increase its usability, and other crypto currencies such as Dash and Zcash.
            If you do not know what exactly BTC is or what it is all about, you are not in the minority. BTC is a decentralized currency that is not represented by any central bank but rather a system of verification and connection between all users who use BTC. It can be used completely anonymously as there is no registration for it, and many businesses are starting to accept payments in BTC such as Steam, Expedia, Microsoft, and even Tesla. It is a relatively volatile currency, having traded at over $1,200 in 2013 to go down to 500 days later. It has been on a steady rise since then and is currently trading at over 740 at the time of this article (17/11).

            The conference featured an international mix of people. Attendees came from diverse backgrounds. Several presenters represented their companies from Argentina and many more from the United States, China, Peru, and Brazil to name a few. Diego Zaldivar, the founder of Roostock, was a big presence with their new technology seeking to add to the usability of BTC as a smart contract as Etherium has achieved. There were many attendees who were present to network with other influential members of the BTC community such as Alejandro de la Torre who came from Amsterdam to represent his company, BTC.com, a Bitcoin wallet and news center. As the conference unfolded, it became apparent that although BTC is an international currency that is almost entirely decentralized among the world, it still consists of a tight knit community of players.

This tech savy group of economists is an odd mix between geek and banker. Several presenters were the founders of multi-million dollar companies, yet they had the presentation skills of a nervous teenager. Almost everyone had a galaxy s7 or and iphone 6 on the go, and it was not uncommon to see people on their laptops in the middle of a presentation. The stereotypical programmer with poor hygiene was well represented as was the classic banker with a suit, tie, and slicked hair. This juxtaposition of cultures highlighted itself more with the venue, an old tango theatre located in a basement of a gallery on Florida street. Tango, an old pastime of Argentina mixed together with a new, revolutionary technology that aims to completely change commerce across the world.
Resultado de imagen para bitcoin miningThis mix of old and new, money and technology, culture and progression fits in quite well with Argentina as it is one of the most prominent countries in South America in the BTC world yet also one of the most plagued by corruption and economic slugishness. Since the election of Macri, there has been an explosion of BTC activity in Argentina, from tech companies such as Rootstock to bitcoin ´miners´ that produce Bitcoins. This rise in something new, progressive, and revolutionary in anything related to economics is not exactly characteristic of Argentina, but it could be a great source of financial success for tech savy people looking for jobs and bring futures.

After the first day at the conference it seemed that Argentina could become a powerful player in Bitcoin and potentially draw in other technological advances to help it get a step ahead of the global competition. But being Argentina, progress does not come without a fight. After leaving the conference and walking out onto the street, there was a protest of people marching through Avenida de Mayo to protest the new government and some of the new changes that have been made to make the country more appealing to investors. A great impression to leave for the international people seeing Argentina for the first time. 

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