Snapcard Co-Founder and CEO Michael Dunworth recently made a trip down to Brazil to engage with government officials and make a presentation on Bitcoin and blockchain technology, and he was quite surprised by some of the questions that were thrown his way during the meeting. While most of the Bitcoin community still see regulators as dinosaurs who are unable to keep up with the fast-paced developments in the Bitcoin ecosystem, this does not appear to be the case in at least one South American country.
I recently met up with Michael Dunworth at the San Diego Blockchain Agenda Conference, and he provided some insight into how his company views Brazil and what happened after he gave his presentation on Bitcoin to a room full of Brazilian regulators and central bankers.
Dunworth: We’re the Largest Bitcoin Wallet in Brazil
One of the first things Michael Dunworth mentioned when we sat down for our chat at the San Diego Convention Center was his company’s focus on Brazil. The Snapcard CEO believes 2016 could be a huge year for Bitcoin in the largest country on the continent of South America, which is part of the reason he decided to make the trip down there in the first place. Dunworth noted:
“Brazil is one of our focuses as a company. I think we’re the largest wallet in Brazil now. There’s not really too many people in the space. I would be very hard pressed if someone is doing more volume than us as a bitcoin wallet at the moment.”
Dunworth went on to describe the large amount of resources the company is placing in Brazil, and he also noted Snapcard has plenty of relationships and partnerships popping up in the region. One example of a partnership Snapcard has in Brazil is with PagPop. The relationship between the two companies has enabled more than 12,000 merchants in Brazil to accept bitcoin payments.
Snapcard is Eager to Engage with Regulators
Another one of the reasons Michael Dunworth decided to fly down to Brazil and meet with government officials and central bankers was that Snapcard has a policy of doing everything the right way from a legal perspective. There have been plenty of Bitcoin startups that have shot themselves in the foot by not following laws and regulations in the past, and Dunworth does not wish to see his company end up in the same situation. In the United States, regulators have shown they will shut down any startup — no matter how big or small — if it appears they are breaking the law.
During our conversation, Dunworth admitted to being somewhat intimidated by his audience at the central bank due to the political clout they hold in the country. Having said that, he also understood the importance of doing everything in his power to make sure his company and Bitcoin were both viewed in a positive light. He explained:
“We want to do everything right as a company. We engage FinCEN. I flew to Brazil to spend a whole day with the central bank. We take that approach. We’re not trying to slip around the terms and conditions or through loopholes.”
Government Officials in Brazil Understand Bitcoin
The most surprising aspect of Dunworth’s visit to the Central Bank of Brazil was that many of the people he was presenting to already knew quite a bit about Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Although he had planned a more general presentation based around the basics of this new form of digital payments and what it could mean for Brazil, Dunworth was shocked when one audience member asked him questions about sidechains and private blockchains.
Although the small event was held at the Central Bank of Brazil, Michael Dunworth noted, “Everyone was in town.”
Government officials involved with consumer protection, anti-money laundering, foreign exchange, and just about anything else involving money or currency were present for Dunworth’s presentation.
Huge day yesterday! Our CEO had an amazing meeting with the Central Bank of Brasil… More news to come! #bitcoin pic.twitter.com/8buSXVOuHt
— Snapcard (@joinsnapCard) November 5, 2015