Cartagena, a historical city in Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is set to play host to the Blockchain Latinoamérica conference in December. This will be Latin America’s second regional conference in Latin America in 2016, after the Latin America Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference (LaBitConf), which will hold its fourth annual meeting in Buenos Aires in November.
The conference promises to explore the potential impact of Blockchain technology that will “irreversibly transform not only the financial world but diverse industries by allowing secure and distributed transactions without the involvement of middlemen,” states the website.
The two-day event on December 5 and 6 will be the stage for banking industry executives, Bitcoin and Blockchain startups, as well as Colombian former and current officials to discuss applications for the Blockchain Technology. Among the ten scheduled speakers will be Bitpay co-founder Tony Gallippi, Blockchain Advisory Group member Anish Mohammed, and Rootstock co-founder Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar.
Blockchain enthusiast Andrés Rodríguez Guapacha, who is behind the Colombian startup organizing the conference, told Cointelegraph that they chose Colombia because “it has a relevant position in terms of investment and a growing interest in technology. It has a stable economy and a lot of potential,” he said.
Colombian government, however, has a murky history with Bitcoin. In March 2014, the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC), the body in charge of regulating financial markets, warned Colombians against using Bitcoin stating:
“The Bitcoin is an asset that has no equivalent statutory legal tender in Colombia since it was not recognized as a currency in the country.”
“The legal uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin has brought headaches to some Bitcoin entrepreneurs. Local Bitcoin exchange Colbitex decided earlier this month to temporarily suspend activities after SFC officials visited the company and told them their business might be infringing national regulations,” reads a statement published on their website. The exchange affirmed they are revising their business model and “no one from the government has protested or blocked Bitcoin transactions.”
“Historically, legislation has been enacted as a reaction to reality,” Rodríguez Guapacha explains. “It’s normal [for the law] to be many steps behind technology.”
Despite the government’s attitude, Rodríguez Guapacha has high hopes for Bitcoin and the Blockchain technology in Colombia. “We are focusing on financial application and cryptocurrencies because we believe the Colombian micro economy needs to improve on those areas. Technology can democratize the access to jobs and resources that are currently hard to reach,” he said.
The Editable Blockchain Debate
Rodíguez Guapacha joined the current debate over the existence of so-called private or editable Blockchains, a concept that has sparked a heated debate within the Bitcoin community. He believes private Blockchains have some applications and advantages. Even if the only advantage is that banks are adopting and implementing it.
“This implies generating knowledge that will reward the whole community working with Blockchain,” he adds.
Guapacha concluded that they are focused to “educate and build knowledge” not only for merchants, “but also for big financial companies to benefit from the Blockchain technology.”