Nathan Lustig

Increasing Transparency in Mexico through the Blockchain

Earlier this year, Mexico became one of the first countries in Latin America to regulate financial technology, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The Mexican Congress officially recognized cryptocurrencies as digital assets – but not as currency – and set up rules to control exchanges to prevent corruption and money laundering. The law puts the Mexican Central Bank in charge of monitoring companies working with cryptocurrencies.

The Mexican government as a whole is also investigating multiple uses for the blockchain to increase transparency, reduce corruption, and prevent illegal activity throughout the country. Mexico currently ranks 135th out of 180 on the global corruption index, according to Transparency International.

In early April 2018, the Mexican government released news that they are currently developing a project called Blockchain HACKMX that uses the blockchain to track and validate bids for public contracts. This system, proposed by a group of university graduates last year, will increase transparency in the federal hiring process and help organize the post-contract auditing process. (more…)

The Funding Rounds of Latin America’s 9 Tech Unicorns

Latin America’s tech ecosystem is maturing rapidly. 2017 was a standout year for foreign investment in Latin American startups, with investors in the US and China taking an interest in tech companies that are solving both local and global problems. Not only are the startups in the region becoming more numerous and innovative, but the older tech companies that started in the mid-2000s are reaching high valuations that allow them to compete globally.

Over the past decade, the number of tech startups reaching billion-dollar valuations, known as ‘unicorns,’ has grown considerably. At least nine of these unicorns were founded in Latin America, concentrated in Argentina and Brazil.

There is a lot to be learned from tech companies that can reach a billion-dollar valuation in a challenging market like Brazil or Argentina. What’s more, building a billion-dollar business in Latin America does not happen overnight.

Here’s a look at how each of Latin America’s billion-dollar tech companies reached their current valuations. (more…)

Unlocking the Potential of E-Commerce in Peru

With a population of 30+ million people, Peru is Latin America’s fifth largest country. Much like Chile, Peru is extremely centralized, with 10 million people – or one-third of the population – living in the capital city of Lima. Less than a million people live in Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa, resulting in a highly rural population scattered across a diverse landscape that includes the Andes mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Andean Plateau.

Peru’s geography provides challenges to both Internet penetration and delivery logistics. These barriers help explain why Peru, despite its young and Internet-savvy population, lags behind the rest of the region in the development of e-commerce.

MercadoLibre statistics show that only 5% of Peruvians currently purchase goods online, citing reasons such as low financial inclusion, fear of fraud, and concerns about delivery logistics for the disparity. By comparison, up to 40% of Chileans and 70% of Mexicans are purchasing online. (more…)

How Brazil is Trying to Fight Corruption via Blockchain

Blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives in Brazil are a double-edged sword. While startups and government agencies work to implement blockchain technologies to increase compliance and reduce corruption, Brazil’s 35th President, Lula da Silva, is on his way to prison in part for a Bitcoin-based money-laundering scandal.

Brazil, like the rest of the G20, sees cryptocurrencies as assets rather than legal tender. However, one of São Paulo’s most prestigious universities debuted a Cryptocurrencies Masters’ program this year, so it is unclear where Brazil will land on this contentious debate. What’s more, Brazil’s private and public sectors are rapidly adopting blockchain technology to manage the political and economic challenges of a population of 210 million people.

Here are some of the ways governments and businesses are implementing blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Brazil.

Blockchain and the Brazilian government

The Brazilian government already uses blockchain in a variety of ways for their operations. Two of the most prominent initiatives include a way to regulate land titles in the Amazon as well as a management system for Brazil’s ‘popular petition’ electoral process.

(more…)