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1,899 viewsCategories: GeneralFebruary 16th, 2015 by arturodelia
Blockchain technology is nothing new. We have lived with blockchains since our inception as homo sapiens. Each cell in our body contains a copy of our unique string of DNA. We have different kinds of cells, so each cell follows a portion of the instructions set out in the DNA, yet each cell contains the full DNA copy. Of course, the cells don't need to worry about bloat since the chain of instructions doesn't change, that is until it merges with the DNA of another human. Amazingly, we can infe...Read More
3,740 viewsFebruary 8th, 2015 by arturodelia
I finished 2014 with so many great experiences in Argentina that the final outcome of educating and assisting in the Bitcoin adoption there didn't disappoint me. ...
What I didn't expect was that a "tico" (Costa Rican) would contact me and ask whether I wanted to give a Bitcoin talk in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. I was already going to visit Costa Rica on my way up from South America as I headed to Canada, so I accepted the invitation.Read More
3,206 viewsCategories: ColumnsAugust 5th, 2014 by arturodelia
With Argentina in the news a lot, it's hard to ignore the need they have to find a better way to do business. Especially when printing more pesos just isn't going to make the problem go away. One small store owner in the Patagonia has taken the opportunity to accept bitcoin instead of the depreciating Argentine peso.
So I headed down to the beautiful town of San Carlos de Bariloche, famous for its mountains, enormous fresh water lake and Swiss style town, to make my first purchase with bitcoin. Besides, I've been studying bitcoin for over a year now and I hadn't made my first bitcoin purchase yet!
I bribed my family with a promise to get them goodies from the store to come with me so they can not only see how cool it is to use this new international money, but finally see in action the very technology I was bragging about for so many months. The downtown located Maxikiosco is a quick stop for snacks on the go. Just a few blocks from where we were staying so it was perfect.
I opened the "Aceptamos Bitcoin" branded door and right away in an Argentnian tone and look spoke to the owner asking in spanish, "So you really are accepting bitcoin?". A slow smile came to his face. Little did I know that his store was becoming popular with clients paying with bits.
He confirmed and we selected our items. So I put all the goodies on the counter and he counted quickly the final sum in pesos... and that's where the ease of bitcoin came to a screeching halt.
If you don't yet, Argentina has two rates. The oficial and the "blue" rate. The first is the oficial rate of the peso to the dollar (and any other fiat for that matter). The second is the "black" market rate that fluctuates depending on the actual demand on the dollar (Mycelieum has confirmed with me that they are planning to put a blue rate in their wallet soon).
Bitcoin is exchanged at the blue rate of course, so that means converting the peso to the blue rate to the bitcoin. After a few minutes of this, we confirmed how many bitcoins... or milibits... and that's the thing, he hadn't moved over to milibits yet, even though the small purchases he sells would be more convienient for him. But that was easier than trying to scan the small QR code on is small iPhone4 (even my 4.9" android is too small for me!). He was going to dictate the account to me but I halted him. I have a strict rule of no manual inputs.
That's just rediculous in this day and age. So he wanted to text me the address to my cell phone so I can copy and paste it. It took me a second but I did notice eventually I had no cell signal in his store... which meant I also needed wifi to confirm the transaction with him. My family looking at me now is doubting they were going to get their promised drink and snacks.
"Fear not! Over 20 years in the IT industry, I've seen worse!", I exclaimed. He had wifi. I tried to connect to it. No luck. I had seen this before, cell phone hung, waiting for an IP address. I wasn't about to try to start troubleshooting his wifi router no matter how easy it could be. I wanted my drink now.
He said he knew another wifi (possibly the neighbor's?)... and success! Alright, now back in busines. I noticed he was using bitpay on his laptop. At this point, I took over and said to him to just show me the QR code from his laptop screen. I scanned that in a jiffy and then sent him the milibits.
I was not expecting the speed of which the propagation occured, for no faster than me entering my pin to confirm the sending amount, did I hear a beep on his laptop. That was fast. He gave me a huge "We Accept Bitcoin" spanish sticker as a gift. I had my first bitcoin transaction, and it was as cumbersome as all the podcast stories I've heard everyone has had for their first time as well.
Now my bitcoin address had an output. Not a virgin anymore. We both agreed no need to wait for any confirmations, that's just more peace of mind than a necessity for these kind of transactions.
I had to thank my family for their patience and even going back there again later in the day and made another transaction much smoother (saved wifi and bitcoin address helped!), I realized that there is a much better setup small business owners can have if they do the following:
Open wifi called "bitcoin". If we all set aside an open SSID (seperate from your corporate/home network), we could have also the largest open network that not only advertises for free the bitcoin network, but as well, help previous bitcoin cutomers automatically connect to a network for propergation confirmation.
Screen facing customer with the requesting QR code. Best if it would itemize each purchasing item with a total in the fiat/bitcoin amount. The store owner should make the requesting amount and have that displayed in large on the screen so that the customer only needs to scan it and confirm the send. That would make for a much smoother transaction and even faster than credit cards or cash (if you need change). I have other ideas for multiple checkouts with one cashier but that's another post.
Discount for using bitcoin. Although he is the only one accepting bitcoins, passing on the savings the merchant would have had to pay had the customer used a credit card, would help in their own marketing and also for the paying customer to opt in to pay for a miner's fee. I like the idea of paying the miner's instead of these multi-billion dollar companies.
The bitcoin scene is growing in the south of Argentina. The best thing we can do is convert fiat slowly to it as a savings account (to avoid these rollercoaster violatilities), use it when possible (to encourage the economy to stay in BTC), and help others understand and use it. I average about 2 hours per new adopter in helping them understand, setup their new account, back it up, erase it, restore from backup and then do the first transfer. I remind everyone to have a method for your accounts to be accessed in case of your death so to not see the funds lost forever.
Arturo D'Elia has been working in the IT industry for the last 21 years. He's currently volunteering freely and independantly in the Argentinian Patagonia to help people learn and understand bitcoin. Any donations for this cause is greatly appreciated! His profile can be found here: https://plus.google.com/+ArturoDEliaRead More