While the regulatory panorama still looks uncertain in many regions of the world, much of Latin America is embracing cryptocurrency.
Over this vast region, blockchain start-ups and cryptocurrency exchanges, educational initiatives, and meet-ups have been stepping up the pace.
The most influential cryptocurrency and blockchain conference in Latin America, LABITConf (Latin American Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference), now finds itself in its seventh year, with some of the most respected speakers and initiatives in the industry taking part. Here are three reasons you should think about attending.
LABITConf has been going since 2013
LABITConf is the largest Bitcoin and blockchain conference in the Latin American region. Unlike your standard blockchain conference however, LABITConf places much more attention on the dialogue taking place away from the main stage.
According to its website, it’s not a conference, but an entire experience. The event is held in a different Latin American country every year. Of course, you have your usual keynotes, workshops, and debates taking place in the public eye, but there is much more focus on building relationships and networking with activities taking place outside of the conference, such as ziplining and exploring the local culture.
One of last year’s attendees enthused in a wrap-up video of the LABITConf in Santiago, Chile: “We get together once a year to celebrate the fact that there’s a possibility to change the world.”
Some of the most respected speakers in the space
This year’s LABITConf event will be taking place on December 12-13 2019 in Uruguay’s two largest cities – Montevideo and Punta del Este. While the speakers have yet to be confirmed, a simple glance at the line-up from last year’s event should be enough to impress.
From some of the biggest and most influential names in the cryptocurrency space like Andreas Antonopoulos, Tone Vays, and Adam Back to RSK founder Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, Rosine Kadamani from Mexico’s Blockchain Academy, and other influential CEOs, even the most conference-hardened participant is bound to learn something here.
Moreover, with such importance placed on getting together both during and after the event, delegates are more likely to actually connect with the speakers and ask questions to further their blockchain knowledge than at any other conference.
Blockchain adoption is high in Latin America
With the exception of Bolivia, which banned cryptocurrencies in 2014, regulation regarding blockchain has been either relaxed or actively supportive in Latin America. Colombian president Ivan Duque based his electoral campaign on the promise of making Colombia the tech hub of Latin America, for example.
As part of his strategy, he is providing tech-based companies with a five-year tax exemption if they can sustain a certain number of jobs within the country. This means that blockchain start-ups can find a very welcoming environment here.
Argentina also announced earlier this year that it would invest in blockchain projects backed by Binance Labs and LatamEx Founders Lab. There are also key initiatives in this country to raise awareness of Bitcoin, such as allowing residents in Buenos Aires to top up their public transport card (the SUBE) with Bitcoin.
Thanks to a weakening national currency in both Venezuela and Argentina and rising inflation in Brazil, we’re seeing more people buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on an almost daily basis. Trading volume on the peer-to-peer Bitcoin purchasing platform LocalBitcoins has even seen a massive Bitcoin premium in Argentina of over $1,000.
Some of the most innovative start-ups in the space
Some of the most innovative blockchain start-ups have come out of this region over the last few years. RSK Labs, for example, is the company behind RootStock, a smart contract platform that has developed a two-way peg to the Bitcoin blockchain.
There is also a burgeoning cryptocurrency exchange ecosystem in Latin America. Brazilian-based BitInka has expanded its footprint from South America’s largest country to Peru, Spain, and Italy.
Bitso is one of the more established crypto exchanges in this region with Mexico City as its headquarters. Bitso users can even transact at local stores in Mexico such as 7-Eleven.
Argentina-based Ripio is another example of a cryptocurrency start-up finding international success. As a crypto lending platform, its primary focus is on the unbanked.
According to World Bank statistics, some 54% of the population of Colombia and some 30% of Brazil still find themselves financially excluded. Ripio has no shortage of customers and has carried out more than 800 loans since 2016, growing alongside other blockchain platforms such as Bitfinex, RSK, and ShapeShift.
Wrapping it up
Much of the Latin American region is showing ripe conditions favouring blockchain growth. From countries with high or hyperinflation to governments actively fostering emerging tech, a plethora of innovative start-ups have been born.
In this region, you can see blockchain initiatives making a real difference in people’s lives, and LABITConf is the perfect starting point for anyone interested in finding out more about the scene here.
You’ll also get to bask in the sun afterwards in one of South America’s chicest beach resorts while Europe and North America are gripped in winter. If growing adoption, innovation, and acceptance weren’t enough reasons for you, perhaps a dose of winter sun will be enough.