Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, is the latest political figure to publicly bash Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (although he also seems to lack basic knowledge about what Bitcoin actually is). Additionally, his administration is continuing to work on blockchain and crypto-related projects that began under the previous president’s jurisdiction.
Bolsonaro’s comments came in an interview that was aired on national television earlier this month. Over the course of a conversation on the challenges of his presidency, he mentioned a government blockchain project that was working to create a cryptocurrency that could be used by unbanked indigenous people in the country.
”I don’t know. Is it a coin?”
The project, which was created by the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Fluminese Federal University was vetoed by the country’s Ministry of Human Rights, Family, and Women in January, but this appears to be the first time that Bolsonaro spoke about the initiative publicly.
“We are cutting expenses. We were about to use 40 million Reales to teach natives to use bitcoin,” he said.
Bolsonaro’s first-ever public comments about Bitcoin followed soon after. When asked what Bitcoin is, he replied, “I don’t know. Is it a coin?”
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Brazilian Central Bank Head: “I have studied and dedicated intensely to the design of what will be the financial system of the future. I participated in studies on blockchain and digital assets.”
Despite the anti-crypto sentiment that he showed in the interview (and the cancellation of the indigenous crypto project), Bolsonaro’s administration includes individuals who have worked closely within the crypto ecosystem.
Roberto Campos, who is currently in charge of the Central Bank of Brazil, wrote in a February letter to the country’s senate that he intends to technologically advance the country’s financial systems, which will likely include blockchain and digital assets at some level.
“I have studied and dedicated intensely to the design of what will be the financial system of the future. I participated in studies on blockchain and digital assets,” he wrote. “One of the contributions I hope to bring to the Central Bank is to prepare the institution for the future market, where technologies advance exponentially, generating more rapid transformations.” (Translated quote.)
Bolsonaro’s anti-crypto comments are particularly significant because of the country’s role in the global crypto and blockchain industries. At press time, Brazil was one of the largest cryptocurrency markets in Latin America; at one point in April, more than 100,000 BTC were traded over a 24-hour-period following an inflation spike in the country’s national fiat currency.
Ripple, the company responsible for the creation of the XRP cryptocurrency, opened a new office in Brazil just last week.