By Justin OConnell
Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, spoke with the President of Argentina on a variety of topics, including drug control, space flight and Bitcoin. According to President Mauricio, the British entrepreneur expressed interest in investing in Argentina.
According to the president’s Facebook page, the president “was very interested in the talk as Branson, plus entrepreneur in areas related to new technologies, such as space flight and use bitcoin is entrepreneurial in humanitarian issues.”
Macri was elected in 2015. As a former civil engineer, his interest in space flight and bitcoin makes sense. He is Argentina’s first democratically-elected non-radical or Peronist President since 1916 and previously held position as Head of Government of the Buenos Aires from 2007 to 2015.
Macri comes from an upper-class background and gained recognition in 1995 after becoming President of Boca Juniors, among Argentina’s most popular soccer clubs. In 2005, he created the right-wing electoral party Republican Proposal (Propuesta Republicana), known as PRO.
As one of numerous investors in BitPay, Branson has a history with Bitcoin. The Virgin Galactic founder also held his own digital currency summit on his private island and represents one of the first high-profile investors to enter into the Bitcoin space.
In September, Branson noted his belief that, despite debate over the Bitcoin block size, the technology was working, he told Bloomberg. Branson has been such a proponent of the digital currency, he wrote on the Virgin website:
I have invested in Bitcoin because I believe in its potential, the capacity it has to transform global payments is very exciting. It has been obvious to us all for quite some time that people aren’t satisfied with the business-as-usual approach adopted by the major payment networks.
There’s a real desire for greater levels of control, freedom and scrutiny over what happens with our money, Bitcoin addresses these concerns and that is why so many people believe it represents the future. While many of us are excited about the possibilities Bitcoin has to offer, I’m not sure any of us would argue that it comes without problems.
Bitcoin gained popularity in Argentina mostly due to currency crisis which rocked the South American nation. In August, the New York Times wrote an article entitled, “Can Bitcoin Conquer Argentina?” In that article, the mainstream American newspaper wrote:
Banks everywhere hold money and move it around; they help make it possible for money to function as both a store of value and a medium of exchange. But thanks in large part to their country’s history of financial instability, a small yet growing number of Argentines are now using Bitcoin instead to fill those roles. They keep the currency in their Bitcoin “wallets,” digital accounts they access with a password, and use its network when they need to send or spend money, because even with Castiglione or one of his competitors serving as middlemen between the traditional economy and the Bitcoin marketplace, Bitcoin can be cheaper and more convenient than Argentina’s financial establishment.
In effect, Argentines are conducting an ambitious experiment, one that threatens ultimately to spread to the United States and disrupt some of the most basic services its banks have to offer.
From 2014-2015, as CCN reported earlier, Bitcoin use in Argentina doubled. Some Bitcoin press outlets speculated that President Macri might be a Bitcoin supporter. What’s most likely to result, in terms of Bitcoin in Argentina, is the partnership of the Argentine government with institutional players in the block chain space, such as via major companies like Digital Asset Holdings or R3.