Costa Ballena’s Bitcoin Project aims to boost Costa Rica’s local economy:

In June of last year, Central America took center stage in the cryptocurrency world when President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele announced his intention to introduce legislation to establish Bitcoin. as national currency. At the time, Bukele said he wanted to create jobs and “improve the lives and futures of millions of people.”

When the legislation was passed by qualified majority in September, the smallest country in Central America became the first country in the world to adopt a non-fiat currency. Adding to the buzz, Bukele later announced a plan to build Bitcoin City in the shadow of the Chonchaqua volcano where the main cryptocurrency would be extracted from the excess geothermal energy produced there.

More relevant to our local history, this Salvadoran government decision was inspired by the surf town of El Zonte which first made waves in cryptocurrency adoption by introducing a Bitcoin wallet to its 3,000 residents. in a project called Bitcoin Beach in July 2020.

On December 10 of this year, a project called BitcoinJungle launched its own version of the Bitcoin Beach smartphone app at the local Dominical Farmer’s Market, where sellers accepted the first payment for Bitcoin products.

“Now it’s easy to bring in people who don’t have a technical background,” co-founder Richard Scotford said in a Dec. 19 interview on Twitter Spaces, “The majority of people are like yes, we want to try this, we want to get involved, we want to make it happen.

Richard Scotford and his co-founders Prem Govinda and Lee Salminen ride a wave that first crashed ashore in El Salvador. While the team initially showcases BitcoinJungle in the Costa Bellena communities of Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal, they plan to expand to other communities across Costa Rica. In this way, it is more community-oriented and contrasts with the initiative led by the government in El Salvador.

Costa Rica is not alone in hosting a new circular bitcoin economy. Bitcoin Lake on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala will launch in January; and similar projects are under development in South Africa and Tonga. Mobile money is also important in Africa where it is increasingly popular with the “unbanked”, that is, people without a bank account.

Over 40 percent of Kenyan adults who used mobile money said they did not have an official bank account. More than half of Salvadorans are unbanked and in the world more than 2.5 billion according to McKinsey.

This is not the case in Costa Rica, so the founders of BitcoinJungle are primarily focused on integrating expats and tourists who flock to the area with cash on hand to invest in properties, businesses. or their own retirement.

“We have a lot of foreigners coming in. It’s a way for them to bring money into the country and use it locally,” and the costs are much less explained by Scotford.

Could BitcoinJungle foreshadow a wave of new technologies capable of boosting a fragile national economy induced by Covid? Most likely, a recent report on Citi’s global investments suggests: Although FinTech or ‘Fintech’ was mixed in 2021, ‘Some segments like’ buy now, pay later ‘, peer-to-peer lending, and blockchain systems rallied tirelessly. ”

You can download the BitcoinJungle app from the Apple App Store where, according to co-founder Prem Govinda, it was officially approved the day before it launched at Dominical.

About Matthew Berkey

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