Somewhere right now in Latin America, there is a little orange Mercedes sprinter van, covered in white animations of bears, pizza and most importantly Bitcoin logos.
Driving from city to city, telling tales of great treasures, that are accessible online and can hold great value. The van, the legend, is called La Bitcoineta and brings joy to everyone who crosses its path.
It almost seems fictional, but La Bitcoineta does actually exist. The non-profit organization works to educate everyone from regular civilians to politicians, students, and companies on how to use bitcoin. Kryptografen spoke to Chevy Contreras, one of the leaders of this initiative to learn more about this exciting action.
“I am a media producer and director, I have been into crypto since 2016. In 2018 I went full in on La Bitcoineta.” Mr.Contreras is one of thirty working on this action. The group is made up of volunteers from different professions but with a similar interest, bitcoin. There are programmers, traders, economists, lawyers, and enthusiasts, from all kinds of backgrounds.
How did La Bitcoineta come about?
“The idea came from some of the team from LaBITconf, the Latin American Bitcoin Conference. We wanted to do something that reaches what laBITconf doesn’t. That is a lot of people. In Buenos Aires, you have La Espacio Bitcoin and a few bars accept bitcoin. It’s a very rich community but Argentina and Latin America are huge. People from farms or small towns don’t get as much exposure. We wanted to create an initiative that goes where crypto doesn’t!“ explains Mr. Contreras.
Logistically, how does it work?
The thirty cant fit into the van, so they take shifts. How it works, is for one trip three of them will go on a trip for two-three weeks, where they speak to schools, universities, people on the street, basically anyone who wants to learn about the Bitcoin blockchain. They then come back to the base in Buenos Aires and plan their next route.
“For example, next week we are going to Córdoba, it’s a very short trip, 500 miles or so, and a team of three is going to do that part of the tour, then they are going to travel around Córdoba province, and Buenos Aires province, and 30 days later they come back and set up the van, and are our team goes somewhere else.”
They don’t sleep in the van, well only sometimes. The tour is described as exhausting. They have to stop and do interviews, talks, and presentations, “You really don’t sleep in the van. You could if you wanted to, we can set up a bed in the van. People offer to let us sleep in their house, or will hock us up with a deal at the local hotel. We end up getting a lot of nights covered by donations!“
They plan their route as a group, “We will send suggestions to the group and ask them what they think. Someone will answer, I have a friend there you should go or, I don’t wanna go there, then they are the ones that want to go and if not they go another time. “
The 411 on the Bitcoin blockchain
“We have a 101 on the Bitcoin blockchain, but everyone is free to say whatever they want, as long as it keeps with the spirit and concept of the project. I’m not telling them what to say, or that they should recommend this wallet. We all read a lot, and we are always thinking about the different initiatives or blockchain solution in the group that we have, and if we all find it trustworthy, then someone is more than welcome to recommend it. We try not to do financial advising or try to sell anything because that’s not what we do.“
It’s not just to recommend them to use bitcoin but also to listen to their audience and try to find new solutions. “We are always in discussion with developers and startups that work with blockchain and they are always trying to ask us, what do you think about this? What is the feedback from other people.“
“Sometimes it’s just about helping a small entrepreneur to set-up a wallet but other times, it’s about answering questions to politicians or economists about the Bitcoin blockchain. We help them understand what they made have heard in the media. It is very interesting.“
“We have been to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, south of Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Different countries have different uses, in Paraguay, there is a lot of mining, you have many developers and startups. In Argentina we see people use bitcoin because of the peso, and there are also a lot of blockchain startups. Different uses for different countries.”
Helping the community as a whole
Last year, Misiones, in the north, declared an interest in La Bitcoineta, they felt that bitcoin and blockchain are the future and they decided to give La Bitcoineta a diploma. A year later, they have started a trash recycling initiative with a wallet and some tokens. “It is interesting because they told us that they wanted to do something a year back and now they are doing something. Our initiative gave them the answers they needed to set this up.“
Bitcoin as a stablecoin is important in Argentina
“I think bitcoin is the present, and crypto is maybe the future. I get paid in bitcoin, I use it as a store of value, when I need to pay something I sell some of my bitcoin then I sell those dollars. I don’t use peso, bitcoin is the presence. In Argentina last month we lost 10% of value in peso and last year we lost 50%. You need to learn economy and you need to be safe from the government at least in Argentina and other countries in Latin America,
For Mr.Contreras, the biggest take away is “Learning from people. You travel, you meet people, you give something that you really believe in and you get a lot. On my last presentation in Uruguay an 80-year-old woman came, she wanted to tell her son what it was all about and she went to a crypto event last week, very different people.“
La Bitcoineta runs on people who love Bitcoin. They received a donation from laBitconf but also made a Bitgive campaign. If you would like to donate to the initiative, you can donate your crypto to…….