This is Bitcoin Jungle in Costa Rica

Following the success of Salvadoran Bitcoin Beach, similar initiatives have sprung up all over the world. One is Bitcoin Jungle in Costa Rica, where a small but fast-growing community embraced Bitcoin to bolster the local tourism industry.

It started about a year ago. In El Zonte, El Salvador, a circular Bitcoin economy had started in a small coastal community. The project, dubbed Bitcoin Beach, turned out to be the first domino that led to El Salvador’s national adoption of Bitcoin. That success inspired the founders of Bitcoin Jungle to try it in Costa Rica as well.

The circumstances in Costa Rica are admittedly different from those in El Salvador. The politics and economy in Costa Rica are relatively stable, many people have bank accounts, the level of prosperity is higher and the inhabitants are not as suspicious as some in El Salvador. Costa Rica also has its own currency, the col??n , which is relatively stable in value.

That required a slightly different approach than in El Salvador. ?ǣSo we target tourists, we target diners. We have small vendors, all the way to the best restaurants ,?ǥ co-founder Rich Scotford said at the Adopting Bitcoin conference. The tourism sector in Costa Rica is an important driver of the economy, employing about 6 to 7% of the population. Since El Salvador embraced Bitcoin, tourism has grown by 30% – could Costa Rica do the same?

The initiators focus on their immediate surroundings, three villages along the coast. “So the project is quite large, probably about 45km in length and then another 30km uphill ,” says Scotford. They are small communities where everyone knows each other. That made it easy to approach entrepreneurs to join the project.

Farmer’s market

They started with the local market. ?ǣThey’re sellers who make maybe $100 a week in the market ,?ǥ explains co-initiator Lee Salminen, ?ǣThey don’t have credit card machines and things like that, so when foreigners arrive and want to buy something on the market, there’s instant friction. “

“But also $50 or $100 dollar bills that they don’t have change for. Then you see the vendors running around trying to collect change,” he explains, “The ATMs in the village are empty around noon every day, so if you if you didn’t go to the bank in the morning, you don’t have any cash.”

The market vendors were open to accepting bitcoin, but were skeptical at first. “We promised them that we would hang around all day and that anyone could exchange their bitcoins. If they don’t want to keep their bitcoins, we’ll give them cash at the end of the day. Without volatility, we’ll give the price at which the bitcoins have been received ,” said Salminen.

In the first week, about 80% of sellers exchanged their bitcoins for col??ns. Two weeks later that was only 50% and after five weeks 80% would have chosen to keep their bitcoins.

?ǣAnd we all know what happened to the bitcoin price last week ,?ǥ Salminen continued, ?ǣSo I thought, they must be very angry. So I filled my pockets with cash and went to the market. But then, people came buy sats. Nobody wanted to sell, they wanted more sats.”

Circular economy

About 60 entrepreneurs in the region are now connected, varying from restaurants and hotels to tourist shops and tourist outings. It is mainly expats and tourists who spend bitcoin locally.

However, some entrepreneurs also spend their income in bitcoin with other entrepreneurs, for their everyday expenses – the beginning of a circular economy.

?ǣPeople see the value of Bitcoin in Costa Rica ,?ǥ says Salminen, ?ǣOne of the main reasons is that an average middle-class person in Costa Rica has little access to investment resources. They have access to real estate, where the price of rises making it less and less within reach. Their other option is a certificate of deposit with a government bank. Doesn’t that sound great. So Bitcoin is fantastic, once you tell them it’s not just a medium of exchange but a way to store wealth. “

The merchants, the people who accept bitcoin, turn into ambassadors and do the work for you. Richard Scottford

Bitcoin Jungle app

Like Bitcoin Beach, Bitcoin Jungle also has a wallet application aimed at the local community. It is more or less the same application, because the Bitcoin Beach app is open source and the Bitcoin Jungle app is a fork of it. The Bitcoin Jungle app is therefore being further developed on the basis of open source.

The app makes it easy to receive, send or store bitcoin via a smartphone. The value is displayed in bitcoin, but also converted to the local currency. The app also contains a map of the region on which all companies that accept bitcoin can be found. The map is also available on the website. The app had 1,000 active users in April.??

The Bitcoin Jungle app, like the Bitcoin Beach app, is a custodial wallet. So it’s not completely trustless. ?ǣI think custodial services do have a place in the market ,?ǥ says Salminen, ?ǣSomeone who has never heard of Bitcoin, if you have to start a conversation with a seed [phrase] of 12 words, you probably will. losses.”

?ǣI think custodial services are a good springboard, a good way for someone to take their first step with Bitcoin,?ǥ he continues, ?ǣBut they also need to be educated that once they accumulate an amount of Bitcoin that can change their lives, influences, or that their lives could be harmed if they lose it, that they really need to do self-custody.”

?ǣIf I notice that a business has received a lot of Bitcoin payments or the owner tells me so, I make sure to sit down with them for an hour to give them a Cold Card and explain how it works,?ǥ said Salminen.


The project has grown considerably in a year, but there is still a lot to do. “I think the next step is off-ramp,” says Salminen. He is referring to a way that allows people to exchange their earned bitcoins for local currency. So far, there are no exchange offices or ATMs where possible. “In my region I can play the human ATM and that’s fine, but of course it doesn’t work for the whole country,” he explains.

Essential regulation is also missing. “The government in Costa Rica pretends Bitcoin doesn’t exist. It’s just like any other kind of commodity you can buy or sell ,” Salminen says. According to him, the two largest banks, owned by the state, mainly view Bitcoin as a way of laundering money. The Bitcoin Jungle team is therefore working on regulatory proposals.

There are also plans for a Bitcoin embassy. That should become an educational center where people can learn about Bitcoin.

They have thought about expanding to other regions, but they prefer to leave that to others. “It’s not like we’re sitting here and thinking we’re going to dominate all of Costa Rica one day,” says Scotford, “What we really want is for someone else, on the other side of the hill, to start their own project and we connecting the projects together in the end And that’s how adoption will or won’t happen — not in some centralized way with a business plan and expectations, but in a more decentralized way That’s what we’re all about goes.”

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Cryptocoin