Ivan Duque, the newly elected president of Colombia, has announced plans to make his country a leader in technology, particularly blockchain.
Though cryptocurrencies have been increasing in popularity in South America, most of the growth has been in response to government policy, rather than being directed by it. The continent’s middle classes have increasingly seen Bitcoin and other digital assets as ways to circumvent economic policies which have led to capital controls and inflation.
So far the only real government leadership in the region has come from Venezuela, whose highly controversial Petro token has gained widespread attention as the first state-backed cryptocurrency.
This all makes the latest comments from President Duque particularly refreshing.
Duque has a background in finance, having worked for the Inter-American Development Bank and Colombia’s finance ministry, and describes himself as “obsessed” with technology.
Speaking at the ANDICOM tech conference, he outlined plans for Colombia to become the region’s leader in technology, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies. As part of the government’s plan it will create a new official position in the government to focus on how to manage the transition to a digital society.
Duque is particularly interested in the potential for blockchain to reduce corruption. Though Bitcoin is often thought as increasing anonymity, the use of blockchain to create a transparent record of all transactions can serve to make people more accountable for their spending.
“If we want to defeat corruption,” he said, “technology can be instrumental.” Blockchain and big data offer some powerful new tools in ensuring public funds are spent wisely, and honestly.
“Si queremos vencer la corrupcion, la tecnología puede ser instrumental”. El presidente Duque propone usar Big data y Blockchain para luchar contra ese flagelo. #ANDICOM2018 pic.twitter.com/fRowK2rfy9
— Wilson Vega (@WilsonVega) August 29, 2018
In a further bid to promote the industry, blockchain and crypto companies, in addition to some other ICT companies, are to be exempt from property taxes for five years, provided they employ enough people.
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