Brazil's President Rebuffs Cryptocurrency as Administration Explores Blockchain

“I don’t know what Bitcoin is,” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says even as his administration eyes blockchain projects.

AccessTimeIconJun 12, 2019 at 11:45 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:18 a.m. UTC
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Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, has come out publicly in opposition to bitcoin.

In an interview aired on national television, the Brazilian president commented on cryptocurrency being used to bank indigenous people in Brazil. During a conversation centered on the challenges of his new presidency, Bolsonaro talked about projects created by his predecessor's administration. One of the efforts was a $11.5 million project that aimed to create an “indigenous cryptocurrency”.

“We are cutting expenses. We were about to use 40 million Reales to teach natives to use bitcoin,” he said. In fact, Bolsonaro said, he doesn't even know what bitcoin is. 

“I don’t know," he said. "Is it a coin?”

The National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) created the project in order help bank Brazil's indigenous people. The country’s Ministry of Human Rights, Family and Womenvetoed it in January.

The shutdown of the cryptocurrency project was one of the first actions taken by Bolsonaro’s administration. This is the first time the leader commented about bitcoin in public although Brazil is one of the most active countries in Latin America's blockchain sphere.

Not So Far From Crypto

Despite the president’s initial ignorance of bitcoin, the growing cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem in Brazil is impossible to ignore.

Bolsonaro's administration itself also showed certain preferences for blockchain. Back in February, the leader appointed an economist involved in blockchain and cryptocurrency to run the Central Bank of Brazil.

Currently, Brazil is one of the biggest cryptocurrency markets in Latin America and has the highest bitcoin trading volume in all the region, reaching nearly 100,000 BTC in April alone.

This is not the first time the Brazilian leader has been connected with blockchain. Bolsonaro’s ideology inspired a group of supporters to create an alt-right cryptocurrency named after him, the Bolsocoin, whose apparent goal is to "get mainstream attention and rages [sic] antifa and feminist scum."

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