Ernesto Contreras, co-founder of Caracas Blockchain Week, Venezuela's international Bitcoin and Web3 conference, and board member of Dash Core Group, has spoken with me to comment on how cryptocurrency adoption is doing in Venezuela and Latin America, as well as to talk about some of the unique elements the region has within the ecosystem.
What can we really expect from cryptocurrencies in Latin America?
Ernesto Contreras (EC): Despite all the problems in our region, Latin America is a space of dreamers, hard-working people who are constantly looking for new opportunities to emerge, and it is there, in the midst of this desire, that cryptocurrencies fluoarish. The Web3 ecosystem has opened an impressive number of doors for thousands of Latin Americans, spaces that did not even exist before in the traditional finance world.
We have seen Latin Americans embracing Web3, from the NFT ecosystems and theircrypto-games, local crypto-artists collections, the DeFi solutions that are allowing Latin Americans to access financial services that are unthinkable in their local banking systems, to the actual use of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins serving as protection against the inflationary processes happening in the region.
All these use cases have turned our region to become a unique adoption space in the world, a situation that in fact has been reflected in all studies of global adoption of cryptocurrencies that have been conducted and show that among the countries with more adoption we can see Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and of course, Venezuela.
Landing in Venezuela, how do you see the adoption of cryptocurrencies there?
(EC): From my perspective, Venezuela is the country where cryptocurrencies are really within the reach of anyone. From Mothers receiving remittances, to their sons using cryptocurrencies, supermarket payments with stablecoins, workers acquiring crypto as protection against inflation, major payment gateways allowing the use of payments with crypto. All of these use cases show that most Venezuelans have real awareness, and all can have access to cryptos.
What is missing for the adoption of cryptocurrencies to grow more in Venezuela?
(EC): Venezuela needs to show the world everything that is happening here: the use of cryptocurrencies on a daily basis, the basic knowledge that many have about Bitcoin... All these things that from the outside are thought to be impossible to happen and that are happening in Venezuela. We need this so that more companies can come to the country and leverage this unique environment to showcase and offer their products. Many people talk about El Salvador, and their push to Bitcoin adoption, but the reality is that everything that El Salvador has in terms of usage, Venezuela has had since 2019! We want to show to the world the benefits and reality of this crypto adoption!
Also, we need to make our country more aware of the latest innovations that are happening in the ecosystem. In the midst of such a fast-paced Web3 world, it is very common that many updates go unnoticed, even though they can represent a very important change for the lives of many.
These needs are exactly what inspired us to create Caracas Blockchain Week, which beyond being just another Blockchain conference, has aimed to become the space where Venezuelans can demonstrate to the world everything we have been building here in the country, as well as allow, in the same space, international players to come to our local space to share with Venezuelans what they are doing.
How is Caracas Blockchain Week preparing for 2023?
(EC): In our first edition held in November last year, we managed to gather about 3500 attendees, the participation of more than 75 national and international speakers, along with the inclusion of more than 20 brands and companies, we decided to hold a second edition in this 2023.
This year's gathering promises to extend beyond showcasing the adoption of cryptocurrencies within our nation. We're dedicated to spotlighting the potential of Venezuela in contributing solutions to the Web3 landscape. As a testament to this commitment, we're thrilled to unveil the country's first ever crypto-hackathon, which will be a groundbreaking initiative. This addition will complement the highly acclaimed keynote sessions, panels, and networking opportunities that resonated so strongly during the inaugural Caracas Blockchain Week.
All these dynamic elements are converging for our upcoming second edition, set to take the global stage in October. Once again, we're excited to reconvene in the heart of Venezuela's capital, Caracas.