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.
In the early-2000s, the Argentine economy went through a severe crisis, causing Argentina to default on its foreign debt and place strict controls on currency. While Argentina’s economy quickly recovered over the next few years, the Argentine Peso remains famously unstable, passing through periods of rapid inflation and deflation.
Why Are Argentines Bitcoin Early Adopters?
As a result of the instability, Argentines became some of the earliest adopters of cryptocurrency in Latin America – and the world – in an effort to protect their savings against inflation. With an inflation rate of 32% per year (or higher) and a restrictive foreign exchange policy, Argentina was a prime location for cryptocurrency adoption.
Buenos Aires currently beats out most global cities for businesses that accept Bitcoin, with 6.1 businesses that accept Bitcoin per one million people, while New York has just 4.7 Bitcoin-accepting businesses per one million people. However, the Argentine government does not necessarily sanction investment in cryptocurrencies. The Argentine Parliament does recognize cryptocurrency, but they see it as property rather than currency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are currently legal in Argentina, and the country reportedly installed as many as 200 Bitcoin ATMs last year.
If it’s free, you’re the product. If it’s extremely subsidized, you’re probably the product, too. Facebook is free. You’re the product. Google and Gmail are free. You’re the product. Mechanical Turk is cheap, you’re the product. Uber is cheap, you’re the product. Tesla self driving cars are add on features. You’re the product. Snapchat is free. You’re helping them build the best facial recognition database out there. They’re “paying” you with access to use their service.
Tesla needs a few billion miles of driving data to train its computer program to react to all situations. How does Tesla get this data? By tracking all car trips and adding it to the database. Once they have enough data, cars can react to nearly all situations. They’ve used massive amounts of each persons’ data to train the program.
All of the companies I listed above are using free or highly subsidized products to train their algorthims to further automate away humans. Is this bargain fair? That everyone who uses free and subsidized services are contributing to training the AI? The AI that will later run that market and create massive benefits for the company that captured all of this data that people freely gave it? (more…)