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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th December 2018

South America

South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Venezuela

Government starts converting pension payments to Petro: The government of Venezuela has started converting pensioners’ payment to state cryptocurrency Petro, away from the national currency Bolivar without taking them on board. The move is part of latest measures by the Nicolas Maduro-led government to power through Petro cryptocurrency into the national fold.

According to local daily Caracas Chronicles, the country’s pensioners were notified of the move only after the funds were converted. The government’s message indicated that the funds were now in the state’s cryptocurrency for savings purposes.

According to the local publication, originally, bolivars were sent to the pensioners but the government unilaterally converted them into the allegedly oil-backed cryptocurrency.

The Venezuelan government has been trying to push for Petro adoption for months despite serious issues regarding its operation, circulation and government’s control on the affairs. Other countries and trading partners including India and Russia have also refrained from using the cryptocurrency for international payments.

Brazil

Blockchain Academy co-founder optimistic about crypto regulation: Rosine Kadamani, the co-founder of the Blockchain Academy based in Sao Paulo, has expressed optimistic views regarding the future of cryptocurrency regulation in the country.

Speaking with the local media, Kadamani said, “It is not possible to predict how this will happen in the short and medium term, as we have many variants in this process, but I can assure you that the technicians who are currently meeting (from the government and from the crypto ecosystem) are immensely qualified and very knowledgeable well the subject. The good seeds were planted, so I have a very positive view on the future of this relationship.”

Kadamani further predicted that 2019 might be a difficult year for cryptocurrencies but eventually, positive things can be expected from the industry overall in the future.

Exchange in $35 million transfer blunder: A local cryptocurrency exchange based in Brazil accidentally sent USD 35 million to a user who only requested a withdrawal of USD 127. The exchange in question is Bitcambio and the news was broken by local news outlet Portal do Bitcoin.

According to the news, the user Kaique Nunes soon received frantic calls from the exchange’s support to send back the extra USD 34.473 million.

According to Rodrigo Souza, an administrator at the exchange: “People, the mistake really happened. Kaique will be reimbursed for all the costs he has to go to the notary’s office to solve this shit. The note is already being canceled.”

Chile

Chile court says banks can ban crypto exchanges: Top Chilean court has finally ruled in favor of the state-owned Banco Estado and has declared that banks have the authority to shut down banking accounts as they see fit. The ruling overturns earlier decision by a lower court that forced the bank to open the accounts during the trial itself.

The affected cryptocurrency exchange, Orionx, had filed the complaint earlier this year when Banco Estado closed its account without prior warning. The court cited the bank’s concerns regarding its ability to monitor transactions and identities of cryptocurrency traders the reason behind this decision.

The ruling said: “These characteristics and elements determine, therefore, the current impossibility for the Bank to comply with the aforementioned obligations, since it prevents it from knowing in depth the financial activities related to cryptocurrencies developed by the appellant, the most relevant characteristics of its operations, the foundations on which these are supported and, finally, if their amounts are excessive or not.”

It is yet to be seen how the cryptocurrency market will react to the ban.

 

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12 Days of Coinbase Targets Venezuelan Border Town

12 Days of Coinbase Targets Venezuelan Border Town

The traditional 12 days of Christmas started yesterday crypto-style with Coinbase using the song to promote its worldwide services, focusing Day 2 on Venezuelan families in need.

In tune with the season of goodwill, the global exchange giant based in San Francisco, California, has promised to make an announcement that will profit someone each day leading up the big day itself.

Day 1 saw Coinbase announcing that users could buy gift cards so that family and friends could get some Uber, Adidas and Nike surprises through its U-gift program. For those hoping that materialism of this kind was a little too “Christmas Carol” for a multi-national, they have pushed the boat out a bit more on the second day with a gift which feels more befitting a company with such huge profits.

Venezuela continues to somehow avoid major news networks despite a humanitarian crisis there which is gradually becoming more intense by the day.

With a virtually non-existent virtual currency, the Petro, doing absolutely nothing to lift the economy, and inflation rising at alarming rates, eclipsing Germany in the Second World War, nationals are fleeing to neighboring South American countries for refuge. Venezuela is not in good shape, despite Bitcoin donations pouring in to alleviate pressure on some families. The local currency the Bolivar is now almost worthless.

Coinbase is donating USD 10,000 in ZCash (ZEC) to GiveCrypto.org, a nonprofit organization that distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty. The idea is that courtesy of Coinbase, GiveCrypto.org will donate USD 1 a day to the wallets of over 100 families living in the Venezuelan border town of Santa Elana de Uairen, located in Bolívar state near the border with Brazil and Guyana.

Recipients can spend their donated crypto on basic supplies and food over a period of three months in Santa Elana de Uairen. The USD 1 worth of crypto a day will allow families to buy 1-2 kilos of protein or 2 kilos of starches and vegetables every day.

 

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User Withdraws R$500 From Crypto Exchange, Gets R$137 Million

bitcambio, brazil, exchange,

Kaique Nunes, a customer of the Brazilian cryptocurrency exchange Bitcambio, might have gotten the thrill of his life when he withdrew BRL 500 (USD 128) of cryptocurrency and received BRL 137 million into his bank (USD 35 million). Unfortunately, he is being inexorably dragged to the notary office, in order to sign a document to give all that cash back.

Nunes apparently received a phone call from Bitcambio saying there was a document at the notary office he needed to sign, since they gave him the wrong amount of money when he withdrew his cryptocurrency, and signing the document would return the money to Bitcambio. Nunes explains that he thought it was a hacker who had compromised his account information and wanted to obtain his signature, so he hung up on Bitcambio.

Nunes proceeded to ignore Bitcambio for as long as he could, but they kept calling to convince Nunes to sign the document to cancel the bank transfer. The platform vendor for Bitcambio, Rodrigo Souza, posted a series of comments to social media which say “People, the mistake really happened. Kaique will be reimbursed for all the costs he has to go to the notary’s office to solve this shit. Notice is already being canceled… At Bitcambio everything is done strictly within the law. Mistakes happen, we are not afraid to have their attention”. 

Souza admits that Bitcambio went to City Hall to cancel the USD 35 million withdraw, but the city said that Nunes must agree since the amount is so high. This means that Nunes can legally keep all the money, at least until it is escalated to civil court. That being said, Nunes affirms that he will go to the City Hall and notarize the withdraw cancellation, although there is no confirmation that he actually did that.

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The Golden Goose’s Bitcoin Egg: World’s Largest Mining Farm in Paraguay

The makeshift mining industry which has grown around Paraguay’s Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam near the borders of Argentina and Brazil is to become official with a new plan to build the world’s largest mining farm in the region.

Bitcoin News recently reported that a growing group of crypto miners had created their own business in the region with an estimated 20,000 units generating Bitcoin and Ether. Many of the miners setting up business in the region have become millionaires, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

The potential for the dam to change lives for the better through providing power for cryptocurrency mining hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Paraguayan government, with the potential for mining to fund the countries hospitals, schools, and railways as well as to revive the local economy.

It appears Itapúa is finally going to create the regeneration many have been calling for as the government has revealed plans to put into action “Golden Goose”, a project which will see the construction of five mining centers on 50 square kilometers near the tourist town of Ciudad del Este.

The Golden Goose project is part of a massive regeneration plan by Paraguay’s government bring about technological advancement through the growth of new technology and possible revision of cryptocurrency tax laws to enable the enterprise to make an impact on the country’s economy,

It was noted by Choi Yong-Kwan, Chairman of the Commons Foundation, that 10% of Itaipu’s power was used in Paraguay whereas a huge 80% was currently being exported. Thus, the dam had more than adequate power to be redirected towards the mining project.

Paraguay’s Blockchain Technology Foundation plans to raise funds for the project with a pre-sale and Initial Exchange Offering through Bitcoin, MicroBitcoin, and Ethereum. Token holders are promised 30% of the mining profits generated by the new mining center.

 

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 16-22 November 2018

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here, we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country.

Brazil

Increasing Number of Brazilians Preferring Digital Payments: A recent survey shows that Brazilians are increasingly willing to migrate to digital payments alternative. The tendency was highest among all the surveyed countries including Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Australia, and the United States.

According to the survey by SalesForce, 9400 people were interviewed in these eight countries regarding different aspects of the digital consumer experience. 75% of Brazilians preferred allowing their preferences and personal data for a better consumer experience. 70% of them were willing to make purchases online through company websites while 52% made purchases through social media. In addition, 35% of the responders wanted a customized digital channel for offers based on their browsing activity.

Cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin are slow in being adapted into the spectrum because of people’s reliance on the fiat currency model that has physical bank notes. With the progressive mindset, Brazilians will be more likely to adopt cryptocurrency payment solutions in the future according to the survey.

Graffiti Artist Accepting Payment in Bitcoin: Famed graffiti artist Cris Rodriguez has announced that he is now accepting Bitcoin payment for his works. The artist recently received the Art Brazil award for his exhibition where 52 artists and their 208 works were on display.

Rodriguez announced the acceptance of Bitcoin after an advice from a friend who was a cryptocurrency enthusiast. The celebrated painter who has his works exhibited in more than 30 countries is now accepting Bitcoin directly for his artworks in addition to sales at art galleries.

Brazilian Analyst Says Bitcoin could Rise 100% by the end of the Year: Brazilian cryptocurrency analyst Rodrigo Cohen has claimed that Bitcoin’s price could reach almost $13,000 by the end of the current calendar year.

Cohen pointed out to new Bitcoin ETFs as well as the entry of big players like the New York Stock Exchange, Fidelity, and Blackrock that can appreciate the price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency. However, not all of Cohen’s colleagues share this view with many predicting it between $6,000-$7,000.

Cryptocurrency Exchange Associations Send Proposals to Revenue Office: Top two cryptocurrency exchange associations in the country including ABCripto, and ABCB have forwarded proposals to the Federal Revenue Service for public consultation purposes. 

The proposals include several recommendations including lowering the cap of the minimum transaction reported to the revenue service as well as relaxation of other rules to benefit the cryptocurrency industry.

Sao Paulo Event to Showcase Switzerland’s Ethereum Dapps: A November 26 event will see specialists from Crypto Valley, Switzerland showcase their Ethereum-based dapps in the city.

The event will take place from 7-10 pm in the city and will have six lectures for six dapps already operating in the European country that are ready to use. The event is part of a bigger initiative called Blockchain on Tour.

Venezuela

Parliament Approves Crypto Bill to Help Tackle Financial Restrictions: The top legislative body of the country, the Constituent National Assembly has passed a bill of cryptocurrency regulation to combat financial sanctions imposed on the country by the US and its allies.

The law proposed by the current President Nicholas Maduro consists of 64 articles and five transitory positions. It legalizes Petro, the state cryptocurrency project of the regime within the country as well as amendments to current anti-money laundering laws. Under the new legislation, cryptocurrency exchanges are allowed to carry out foreign operations using Petro.

While Petro was officially launched by the government last month, it still struggles with adoption by trading partners, and the public because of various technical issues.

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Brazil Crypto Exchange Associations Send Proposals to Revenue Office

Brazil’s Cryptocurrency Exchange Associations ABCripto (Brazilian Association of Cryptoeconomics) and Brazilians Association for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (ABCB) have forwarded proposals to the Federal Revenue Service of Brazil (RFB) for public consultation.

The move comes after the RFB enacted several new moves to account for monthly cryptocurrency transactions by exchanges and demanded control of these assets to avoid tax evasion in these platforms.

The purpose behind Brazil’s top regulator’s latest moves is to allow cross information of income tax of individuals and businesses operating in the cryptocurrency sector. RFB wants to have a concerted insight into the whole process and calculate the capital gains of the investors and traders through their buy and sell orders.

According to the Yurie Lira, the exchange association’s focal person, “The entire community has been struggling to understand the demand for Revenue and to position itself in a unified way. We seek to consolidate a single drafting model of the normative act to be presented to RFB.”

One of the most contentious decisions both ABCB and ABCripto are looking to overturn include Article 5 of the new rules that suggest all transactions more than BRL 10,000 (USD 2,620)be reported to the RFB. The exchange associations are looking to have it raised to BRL 35,000 which is in line with the article 170 and 179 of the Brazilian constitution.

According to the proposals: “In addition to the quest for equal treatment of the cryptocurrency sector we also took care to provide clarification regarding the condition of the cryptocurrency market…”

Other changes desired by the exchange unions can be read in detail in the new proposal. The proposals may be necessary to save the Bitcoin market in the country according to a joint statement by these two associations.

 

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Mitsubishi UFJ Signs MoU with Brazil Bank for Ripple-Based International Payments

Japanese banking corporation Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFJ) Inc has announced that it has struck a partnership with Brazilian bank Banco Bradesco for a new Ripple-based cross-border payments system.

According to an official press release from the Japanese bank, the new partnership will be based in Brazil itself with the local subsidiary of the bank Banco MUFJ Brasil involved in the partnership with Banco Bradesco.

MUFJ has recently invested a lot in cryptocurrency and blockchain-based systems, including being a party to a blockchain-based syndicated loan organized by Spanish bank BBVA. Now MUFJ has reiterated its confidence in the Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency after joining its payments steering group back in March 2017.

According to the press release: “The new payment system… will assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil.”

While Ripple has been criticized for its centralized approach and other issues, it is gaining traction for the last few months and has seen the price of XRP shoot up significantly from early year’s lows. Various other banks are also in talks with Ripple for adopting its token in cross-border payments systems but nothing concrete has yet been achieved.

Brazil, on the other hand, is seeing increased activity in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector as the new president Jair Bolsanaro has announced support for the sector. While the financial regulators are running a tight ship when it comes to making regulations, so far, overreach has been largely avoided.

 

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Brazil Gets First Crypto Investment Fund Following Securities Commission Ruling

Following the Brazillian Securities and Exchange Commission’s (CVM) ruling to allow cryptocurrency fund shares and derivative investments, national firm Genial Investments has stepped up to offer the first approved financial product.

CVM passed the cryptocurrency policy as part of ‘Instruction 55‘ in September.

The ‘BLP Criptoativos FIM‘ fund is composed 20% of cryptocurrency related assets and 80% of treasury bills, with the internal regulations managed by Brazil Plural Bank. Its stated objective is to achieve a higher rate of returns than the Interbank Deposit Certificate long-term rate.

While investors using the fund will not have access to the direct strategy of the cryptocurrency portion, Genial says there will be a preference placed on the 20 most liquid cryptocurrencies.

Eduardo Salvatore, head of business development at local cryptocurrency exchange and partner of Genial Investments FlowBTC, said that the fund was a crucial move in diversifying cryptocurrency products on offer as interest in the industry grows. ”From FlowBTC’s point of view, it’s an important step that brings institutional investors into the picture,” Salvatore said, sharing the same optimism of cryptocurrency funds with those in the US, Europe, and Asia.

He added that although the fund may not appeal to ”classic early adopters”, the outcome would certainly be greater volumes of investment in the market, benefiting the whole ecosystem.

It is classified as an overseas investment fund, although it is open to the general public. The fund will charge a performance fee of 20% over what exceeds 100% of the Interbank Deposit Certificate. A minimum monthly contribution to the fund of BRL 500 (USD 133) is required until January 2019, and BRL 1,000 from February 2019.

Applications are now open for investors wishing to open a fund.

 

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 2nd to 8th November 2018

South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Brazil

Pharma company launches digital innovation challenge: Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has announced a new entrepreneurship competition. The Pfizer Challenge aims to stimulate innovation in two categories: medical innovation and tech innovation.

Participants can register themselves for the challenge on the official Pfizer Brazil website and the event itself will take place on 4 December 2018. Blockchain startups are looking towards the tech category.

Since Pfizer is interested in the developments of blockchain technology, developers and has already announced two partnerships in DLT including one with Aimeds, an AI company and another with Genentech that uses Quorum based on Ethereum to keep fake medicines out of medical supply chains.

Tax regulator publishes draft on crypto taxation: Federal financial regulator Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB) has published a draft on cryptocurrency taxation in the country.

In the draft paper, available on the RFB website, the monetary authority has declared that it is the duty of the cryptocurrency exchanges to send detailed reports of all cryptocurrency operations on a monthly basis to the regulator. They will even have to reveal the amount and number of transactions as well as identity of customers themselves.

All legal entities investing in cryptocurrencies in foreign exchanges are also obliged to report all transactions per month. For those who fail to report their trade, there will be a fine of up to BRL 1,500 (USD 400). The RFB could charge 3% of transactions as a fine too.

The hard-hitting measure by the regulator is not yet approved by the government but cryptocurrency advocates including the Brazilian Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association (ABCB) may oppose these measures.

Sao Paulo restaurant to accept Bitcoin: A Sao Paulo restaurant named Casa de Porco Bar has announced that it will be accepting Bitcoin payments in a partnership with CoinWISE cryptocurrency payments platform.

According to the restaurant chef Jefferson Rueda, “Our idea is to make cryptocurrencies commonplace just like any other form of payment and thereby increase their global currency position.”

The service is easy to use and will bring many benefits to cryptocurrency holders in the city.

Ronaldinho announces new crypto in partnership with Usain Bolt: Two of the biggest names in sports Usain Bolt and Ronaldinho Gaucho have joined hands to launch a cryptocurrency asset in the market called the Champion Coin.

Other prominent personalities added to the project include Didier Drogba, Akshay Kumar and David Trezeguet. The project is based around global hygiene company Champion Shave. The aim is to tokenize the expansion of the company and record the sale of the first 100% recycled shaver on DLT.

Venezuela

Government authorizes first payment with Petro: The Venezuelan government is moving forward with the use of the controversial cryptocurrency Petro and has ordered the first sentence payment using the state-owned token.

Venezuela’s top court ordered that moral damages in a work-related case be paid in Petro or equivalent to the victim who was injured by an Agriculture Ministry Institute employee.

 

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Bitcoin Mining Latest in Paraguayan Mega Dams’ Checkered History

A remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is developing its own crypto mining sub- culture thanks to the world’s largest dam.

Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14GW. Its guarded by armed patrols and situated on the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan border town which has become a hotbed for smuggling, cartels and drugs. The town of 300,000 has gained a reputation as being part of Paraguay’s lawless wild west.

However, it has a new community and it is growing rapidly. The CPUs have come to town.

Where there’s a dam, there’s sure to be power and a growing group of crypto miners isn’t wasting the opportunity. In an industry which has virtually sprung up overnight, an estimated 20,000 units are now generating Bitcoin and Ether.

Neighboring Brazil sells its energy at five times the price of its poorer cousin, which makes Paraguay an attractive proposition for would-be miners. A fact that hasn’t been wasted on many, according to Gregorio Bareiro, who has seen his air conditioning business rocket since the CPUs came to town. “Some people have become multimillionaires,” he says.

Bariero now provides miners with cooling systems and rents out 750 computers of his own, mainly to Brazilians, Europeans and North Americans. He now hires a dozen staff and has his own plans for installing mines in portable trailers. He sees the potential in Ciudad del Este for lifting the struggling economy, if it were approached on a grand scale. “Paraguay today is the only place where there’s abundant energy,” he pointed out. “We can become the center of global Bitcoin mining.”

The newly-established entrepreneur-cum-air-conditioning-salesman feels that if Itaipú’s power were used to reduce energy prices, the Chinese owners of the 150,000 units might be lured to Paraguay. “In ten years, it would generate enough money to pay Paraguay’s external debt,” he suggested. “With our resources, we ought to have electric helicopters, drones for transporting goods…”

Cristine Folch of Duke University sees data centers powered by clean energy enticing the likes of like Google, Apple and Facebook putting “Paraguay on the edge of the technological frontier”.

The dam certainly has the potential to change lives for the better, one that has already been missed due to politics and corruption. Miguel Carter, a Paraguayan development expert explains that by negotiating a fairer price for its energy, Paraguay could fund its hospitals, schools and railways – all in dire need of upgrading.

Carter saw the potential for a better world lost when Brazil beat Paraguay to the signing of the 1973 Itaipú treaty which lost Paraguay a potential USD 57.7 billion in income. Also in October of this year, it was confirmed that Brazil’s military regime murdered its ambassador to Paraguay in 1979 to prevent the revelation of billions of dollars in kickbacks during the construction of the dam.

“When I saw the numbers I burst into tears,” Carter said. “I know of so many stories of Paraguayans going to hospital and losing their loved ones… there would have been lives saved, kids with a decent education. You could have had a different country.”

Similarly, another study group is calling for energy created from the dam currently sold overseas to be redirected back into the Paraguayan economy with the potential to create 2 million jobs, quadrupling GDP.

It appears that the new spate of crypto mining is the latest in Itapúa’s colorful history. It remains to be seen in whose hands this wealth of resources finally ends and if it contributes to simply creating more wealthy individuals or a wealthy national economy.

 

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