Betschart is an Argentinean based in Montevideo, the son of European parents, a polyglot, with a BA in marketing. He tells us that perhaps one of the keys to his success has been his obsession in trying to understand why some firms grow and others do not. He considers himself fortunate for having grown up in the 1990s, witnessing the information age boom and how the internet has become an essential tool in our everyday lives.
We interviewed the young entrepreneur about the future of the digital currency and to try to understand the rapid growth of its adoption in Latin America.
Do you think bitcoin will triumph as the universal digital currency? If so, why?
The idea of global digital coins distributed around the world is now a reality. Bitcoin is just the best of those currencies.
More and more people are choosing to accept bitcoins. Moneero and related services strive make this more simple. The only thing missing is widespread adoption.
What do you think of bitcoin’s growth in Latin America and in Argentina in particular?
People living in Latin America, especially those living in Argentina, do not trust the government on monetary policy. They have suffered first-hand the effects of chronic hyperinflation, banking crises, and currency restrictions.
Many have lost their life-long savings due to central bank policies.
Bitcoin can empower Latin-American citizens. The bitcoin network will be able to provide banking services to most of the unbanked population, which in the region amounts to about 60 percent. Using existing cellphone infrastructure, we are able to reach 6.8 billion active mobile phones. Most of the planet’s 7 billion people will be able to access financial services that are simply out of their reach at the moment.
You don’t need minimum income, paperwork, or other forms of subtle discrimination to use bitcoins, as in the current banking system.
Why did you decided to settle in Uruguay?
Uruguay loves bitcoin. The country has a long history of banking freedom, and Montevideo is a financial hub for most of South America.
We were lucky to be here already when we learned about bitcoin’s existence. I was born in Argentina, but my parents are from Switzerland. After graduating from college, I decided to stay in Uruguay, because it is a quiet and beautiful country, lying between the two largest economies in the continent: Argentina and Brazil. Here you also enjoy several social freedoms.
Our key employees have also moved here. Anyone who has visited Uruguay decides to stay. Everyone loves it. You must come visit us!
What are the greatest challenges in starting a business around bitcoin?
The main challenge is the security software. The short history of bitcoin is full of ventures launched prematurely with a lot of security vulnerabilities. Some start-ups launched financial services as a social networking platform, and lacked in-depth knowledge of security and efficient transaction handling.
There are no quick fixes in the bitcoin market. Any such quick fix has ended up creating another problem.
The other challenge is the fact that bitcoin is, unintentionally, a global enterprise. This means that one needs to prepare for a lot of different markets, cultures, languages, and legal frameworks. If you focus on the US market exclusively, you miss the point of bitcoin.
Are there any business opportunities left in the bitcoin ecosystem?
There are still plenty of niches yet to be explored, as bitcoin is a completely new market. A myriad of products and services have not yet been developed.
It’s an dream industry for entrepreneurs, engineers and creative people. I think we can expect a lot of investment in time and money in the coming years.
Which is the best way to help the public understand what bitcoin is?
To ensure that its use is so easy that people don’t have to learn something new.
Moneero allows users to handle bitcoins in ways that are already familiar and convenient to them. Anyone who knows how to use a mobile phone, email, or social networks, knows how to handle bitcoins with Moneero.