The second annual Latin American Bitcoin Conference took place in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, drawing 37 speakers and more than 200 attendees from 6th to 7th December.
The wide range of speakers at the event included bitcoin core developer Jeff Garzik, BitPay’s Toni Gallippi, BitGive’s Connie Gallippi, Bitreserve’s Juan Llanos and Ethereum’s Anthony Di Iorio.
Latin America provided a complex backdrop for the event, as many countries in the region face a mixture of social, political and economic pressures. In turn, bitcoin development has been impacted by this uncertainty, even as Brazil and Argentina look to lead the region's industry into a new wave of growth.
Bitcoin Argentina’s Rodolfo Andragnes, one of the organiser's behind the event, expressed this optimism about the future of bitcoin in Brazil to CoinDesk, stating:
"The Brazilian community believes that next year, and thanks to new services, a bigger adoption will be achieved and Brazilians will be prompt to new technologies."
Though the announcement of bitcoin core developer Sergio Lerner as the latest full-time hire by the Bitcoin Foundation was perhaps the most high-profile news, the event saw a number of smaller developments over its two-day run that showcase bitcoin expanding in a key market.
Two such services, BitInka and Ripio, set their official launch dates during the weekend of the conference, as did the newly established Fundaçao Bitcoin Brasil, a local bitcoin foundation.
Bitcoin invoicing comes to Brazil
The expansion builds off the company's similar partnership with mobile phone service TeleRecargas, which allowed it to extend bitcoin buying and selling to roughly 8,000 stores in its home market this August.
However, Ripio will function differently in Brazil, allowing consumers to settle boletos bancários using bitcoin.
A boleto is a government-issued financial document of a specific amount of money to be paid to a merchant by the consumer within a certain period of time. In Brazil, users can select it as a payment option when making purchases online.
There are 48,000 locations nationwide where Brazilians can pay their boletos, including at banks and through online banking. Bitcoin users are now able to pay with the digital currency by registering an account with Ripio and submitting their invoices through the platform.
"For BitPagos, Brazil is one of the most important markets. It’s the largest country in population and GDP of the region and is the fifth largest smartphone market in the world," BitPagos CEO Sebastian Serrano said. "A big part of our focus for 2015 is going to be increasing bitcoin adoption in Brazil and the region."
BitPagos was also in attendance to participate in the event's Latin American startups panel.
Peru-based wallet and exchange launches
BitInka launched its novel wallet product officially on Saturday morning.
The bitcoin exchange and wallet service aims to integrate users’ bitcoin finances into daily life by executing all conversions and transactions against its bitcoin price index. Further, it emphasizes fiat currencies, using bitcoin as a means with which to provide a better money sending service.
To send money, the user inputs the amount he would like to send and the currency in which the recipient is meant to receive it. Before confirming the transaction, the application will show the user how much the recipient will receive and the bitcoin price by which that amount is calculated.
The sender bears no cost for the transaction, but the recipient incurs a 1.5% fee.
For example, if a user wants to send $100 in Peruvian nuevo sols (PEN) he would deposit funds by linking his bank account. At press time, $100 equals 295.70 PEN; measured against the BitInka price index it’s 0.27 BTC – making the amount to be received 296.77 PEN, including the deducted 1.5% fee.
“When youre sending money through our platform, you’re actually buying and selling a bitcoin instantly – that's why you have an index,” said founder Roger Benites.
Users must have a bank account to withdraw fiat funds; users without a bank account can hold bitcoin but must be verified. Transactions sending or receiving bitcoin impose no fee.
BitInka operates in Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela and plans to expand to the rest of Latin America.
Bitcoin comic book attracts bidders
The event, however, wasn't all business, as the conference organizers planned a Twitter-based auction of Alex Preukschat and Josep Busquet’s Bitcoin: The Hunt for Satoshi Nakamoto.
Andragnes set the opening price of 0.01 BTC in a tweet using the hashtag #bidcomic. Ten other bidders participated on the social media platform, including Di Iorio and Juan Llanos.
— Rodolfo A. (@RodolfoBits) December 6, 2014
— Anthony Di Iorio (@diiorioanthony) December 7, 2014
In the interest of time, the auction wrapped live at the event, with a winning bid of 3 BTC to be donated to Fundaçao Bitcoin.
The book is currently making its way through the world to be signed by the bitcoin champions who appear in the storyline. Once complete, the comic will be delivered to the winner.
Rio de Janeiro streets via Shutterstock