TL;DR: Profiles of Crypto Adoption is series dedicated to highlighting the work of those who push peer-to-peer digital cash adoption forward in a variety of ways all over the world. It’s a great way as well to get inspired and, hopefully, start your own meetup or join one (email@example.com). In this installment, we talk with Roberto Garcia, the man behind the Bitcoin Cash House initiative, about how his work is promoting the idea of peer-to-peer cash in Venezuela.
Roberto Garcia of Bitcoin Cash House
Roberto Garcia is the man behind the new initiative known as Bitcoin Cash House, a physical space dedicated to teaching about cryptocurrencies and the possibilities they could bring to the Venezuelans. Garcia is a lawyer and a university professor, a profile that makes him particularly interested in the cryptocurrency world. Studying law, he read about the social and political aspects of economics, and he discovered cryptocurrencies as a disruptive force.
Barquisimeto, Venezuela: the Interview
CoinSpice: How did you get to the world of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin Cash specifically?
Roberto Garcia: In law and politic science school, we were always talking about the social and politic aspects of the economy. Always around politics you need to refer to economic systems, and these must be defined with a historic scheme. Amidst all these readings and research about how economics affects human beings, I realized that cryptocurrencies were a disruptive tech between human action and the cultural environment, social environment, and the bad action of governments all around the world.
I came to Bitcoin Cash right about at the hard fork, and realized Bitcoin Cash would follow the original vision for Bitcoin more closely than Bitcoin Core — a more effective, quick and cheap payment medium, being what Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned since the design of the original cryptocurrency. Blockchain involves a lot of tech, but also introduces philosophical views of how the economy must be. Now, having Bitcoin Cash that lets us send any amount of money for an almost free fee, I think this is the road we must follow.
How did the idea of Bitcoin Cash House came to fruition?
When I was an ambassador for the Bitcoin Cash Association, now rebranded to BitcoinCashers, we were sent to spread awareness and onboard merchants in the area to the idea of using bitcoin cash as payment. So, while doing that, I came to see an empty venue, and an idea came to my mind. I envisioned a little shop of sorts, where we could sell stickers, clothes, hats, and memorabilia allusive to Bitcoin Cash. The catch of the store would be that the only way of getting the merchandise would be paying with Bitcoin Cash.
Having these thoughts, I reached Matt Aaron from Bitcoin.com, who had lent us his support for doing other events at the university, and to my surprise, he loved the idea. Dispite this, however, we initially lost interest due to the high costs of a mall location and the requirements to start a small business.
After being hit with that reality, we kept brainstorming, and the proposal shifted from a store to a place where we could offer advice to people about crypto and to help download a wallet, organize meetups depending on the size of the venue. Then the idea of receiving remittances was also mentioned along with mentoring investors. The concept was refining and simplifying itself, and it evolved into an advising and consulting place where a trusted party would introduce people to the world of cryptocurrencies and the opportunities it presents. It is a place to feel like home with friends, that’s why we called it Bitcoin Cash House.
What would you say its the main mission of Bitcoin Cash House?
In Bitcoin Cash House we advise people on how to receive remittances using the local.bitcoin.cash platform. We teach individuals and groups of friends to show them the traits of the blockchain platform. We teach them how to download the Bitcoin.com wallet and show them how Bitcoin Cash works and the many differences it has with Bitcoin Core. We also show them how to use Sideshift.ai, and teach them how to protect their assets using stablecoins to avoid suffering from volatility. We receive people interested in working with Bitcoin Cash, and other investors and businesses, showing them how to receive cryptocurrencies as payment.
How has the reception to Bitcoin Cash House been in the community?
We just have 15 days operating, and the first week was pretty successful. We have been getting proposals and ideas that we will be developing in the coming weeks. Some people have integrated into the team. In the first week, we had more than 30 people interested in doing proposals and learning about cryptocurrency.
We have had incredible media coverage from Bitcoin.com and other outlets as well. My time is limited due to the other activities I have, but we are coordinating more activities to keep people interested and coming to the Bitcoin Cash House.
In your experience, what are the most common worries of Venezuelans have about cryptocurrency?
Some of the people that come to the Bitcoin Cash House are interested in using cryptocurrencies for remittances. But most of the people are concerned about the use of Petro, the state-backed crypto, for paying for passports and certifying documents. The energy generated by the Bitcoin Cash House distorted part of my work because I had to clear doubts about the Petro, but I took this as an opportunity to also show them how Bitcoin Cash works. We are working on new activities to get people interested in Bitcoin Cash.
Part of my work is orientating people in the philosophic part of cryptocurrencies. Most see cryptocurrencies as a form of savings by evading devaluation, so there’s a void in the philosophical meaning of p2p uncensorable money, and I try to center my work on filling that void.
Are there expansion plans for this initiative?
We are in beta stages and this is actually a test for three months. We need to see how people behave at a local level, but I think we have had good results so far. Bitcoin Cash House will be more visible as we generate more enthusiasm. My goal is to get more than 100 businesses accepting Bitcoin Cash.
But yes, we are thinking about expanding into other parts of Venezuela and even the world. We are still learning how to do the things we are doing. We simply don’t know how this experiment will work. It will all depend on how many business we manage to get interested and how many people are interested too in learning about Bitcoin Cash
I think Venezuela, with all of its lack of infrastructure, is still a fertile ground to propose and build interesting things with blockchain and Bitcoin Cash. Venezuela is a virgin country to implement any practical project. It only requires creativity to generate enthusiasm from the cryptocurrency atmosphere, and to create, little by little, a routine of using cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin Cash is cheap, accessible, easy and educational, and I think that, maybe in 6 months to a year, it will be a big hit.
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