In the past 8 years, TED talks have taken the internet by
storm, with presentations covering everything from the positive effects of
gaming to the philosophy for a happy life. While not the first TED talk to
delve into Bitcoin and certainly not the last, Juan Llanos delivered a rousing
presentation on the potential effects the digital currency could revolutionize
much more than global distribution of wealth.
Llanos, a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist since 2003, was born in Argentina and now lives in the United States. He started off his talk by going over the reality a majority of countries ravaged by inflations and loss of currency face, including the hardships he faced in his home country.
As he put it simply: “If money doesn’t flow, life doesn’t flow.”
Llanos explained how this flow is hard to keep up due to high remittance fees from banks – in some countries in Africa remittance fees spill over 20%. According to the World Bank, if these fees were cut by 5%, over US$16 billion dollars would reach their destination country.
Citing this estimate, Llanos elaborated: “Imagine if a mother (in Zimbabwe) were to receive two additional dollars from her son in London. Two dollars is probably more than she can make in a month.”
With the rising growth of internet users in Africa (Llanos cites an 82% growth in 2013), Llanos transitioned to what he considers the best money transfer system sans a third-party: Bitcoin.
“I’m not representing a brand. I’m just excited to introduce to you a new technology that I truly believe is going to be life-altering for millions.”
According to Llanos, Bitcoin can be summarized in three parts:
1. A digital payments system
2. Digital money i.e. currency
3. Digital platform that allows for many innovations.
Llanos remarked that the third point is most important to
him. After explaining how distribution of bitcoin is controlled by no one,
inflation is impossible due to the limited number of bitcoins, and users never
give away their identification during transactions, he shed more light on these
innovations and how they can be used beyond a payment system:
“For example, voting – our vote is going to reach the destination and never be altered. And fundamentally, it could unearth all of the hidden value in the underground economies. The mystery of capital that[Peruvian economist] Hernando de Soto and many others have studied…these people could underwrite and get credit for the first time by being able to securitize an asset they have and is hidden in that economy.”
Ending on an optimistic note, Llanos took another chance to express his faith
in Bitcoin: “I truly believe this technology is revolutionary. It can help us
and really change the world.”
Juan Llanos is currently EVP at Stealth Bitcoin Startup. Previously he co-founded Unidos Financial services and acted as EVP, & Compliance Officer, where he was responsible for its technology strategy formulation and execution along with its AML and compliance risk management infrastructure.
Llanos’ Ted talk can be viewed here.
Commentary from Juan Llanos:
"With respect to block voting, I just picked up that one from many other examples I could have used. As you know, a crypto-graphic ledger such as the Bitcoin block chain, is capable of recording anything. So using a Bitcoin-like system for voting means using cryptography and a distributed ledger to verify, record and confirm votes just like any other 'transaction'. The most important benefit is that the votes would be tamper-free (the ledger is incorruptible!). Other benefits include: the costs of running elections or polls would be greatly reduced (all that would be needed an application on a mobile phone, both feature or smart), voter could vote from the security of their homes (you said it!), results would be available very fast after the closing, etc."