Interview with Lorena Ortiz, founder and director of the Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City.
Hyperbitcoinizer: What is the Bitcoin Embassy Bar?
The Bitcoin Embassy Bar is a space in the Roma Norte neighbourhood of Mexico City dedicated to the Bitcoin community. It is a place to meet people with similar interests and to learn about peer-to-peer money by sharing knowledge. It was built for and with the help of the community.
How do community members help?
By taking part in meetups, giving workshops, donating artworks or just by visiting our place. We want to show everybody that there are so many different people in Bitcoin.
What made you start the Embassy?
I studied social psychology, so I understand the importance of community building for social movements and revolutions. Bitcoin is not only a monetary revolution, it’s a social one, too. Bitcoin has been growing and getting stronger because of the people, and people are the reason for the Bitcoin Embassy Bar to exist.
How did you discover Bitcoin?
I was planning a trip to Japan and I was searching for investments to make my money grow for it. I was introduced to a friend of a friend who was into some really weird new form of money and as I liked weird stuff I thought it would be a good idea to meet him. So I met David Noriega who later became my co-founder. He talked to me about Bitcoin not as an investment, but as an ideology. I was really into the Do-it-Yourself philosophy of punk back then, so all the ideas about sovereignty and freedom made sense to me right away.
Where do you see the connection between Punk and Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is in essence a DIY Fuck-the-System tool. It is people’s money that depends on us, that evolves and grows with us. All the developers that have been contributing to Bitcoin from the beginning do it because they want to build better money and a better world. And we the people who dedicate our lives to Bitcoin want the same, and I think that’s really punk.
What fascinates you about Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is an amazing new way to transmit value without having to ask permission from anyone. It can free all humanity from the economic and financial system that has always failed. What I like most are the great people I have met on my Bitcoin journey.
So far the Bitcoin community is predominantly male, middle aged and well educated. What has to happen to make all parts of society open up to Bitcoin?
In a positive sense, we need better and easier tools so that people can use Bitcoin effortlessly. We need to share knowledge and educate as many people as possible so they see the way out of the rotten fiat money system we live in. In a negative sense, we will probably have to go through a major economic crisis that shakes everything up so people finally open their eyes.
Which new developments do you find particularly interesting?
The Lightning Network has developed into a very good tool to make Bitcoin payments faster and cheaper. Now the Taro protocol is coming, which makes it easier for developers to create new stuff like stablecoins that can be sent through the Lightning Network. The DeFi boom in 2020 was interesting, but I was a little worried because most of it was based on Ethereum. Luckily Rootstock showed up, which is a game changer for me. I am glad to see DeFi built on Bitcoin. Even better is that many of these tools will have a positive social impact on Latin America.
How can Bitcoin be helpful for people in Latin America?
Latin America has a very high rate of unbanked people that have no access to financial services. Bitcoin and especially DeFi built on Bitcoin is the solution for this problem.
What is your vision for Bitcoin in the future?
I hope that Bitcoin will be used worldwide in the future and protect the freedom and sovereignty of all people.
Interview by Aaron Koenig