S14 E17: Rodolfo Andragnes on Labitconf 2023 & Argentinian Elections

In times of hyperinflation and political uncertainty, the 11th annual edition of Labitconf makes the bold decision to have a second consecutive edition in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rodolfo Andragnes, the creator and mastermind of “the Lollapalooza of Bitcoin conferences”, has a special theme in mind: revolution.

Last year, Labitconf was all about the football world championship – which the Argentinian team coincidentally won. However, earning the gold trophy among all nations of the world didn’t also bring prosperity to the country. According to published statistics, the inflation rate in Argentina is higher than 100% – and is soaring dangerously towards 200%. In less than one year, the inflation in the country nearly doubled and the economic consequences are also manifested in the social and political realm.

I’ve contacted Rodolfo because I really wanted to talk about Labitconf. But it’s hard to ignore the context of the presidential elections: where classical liberal candidate Javier Milei is taking on the establishment, represented by current finance minister Sergio Massa. Milei follows the teachings of Hayek and favors a world where currencies compete on a free market – and is therefore in favor of bitcoin.

However, as Rodolfo Andragnes made it clear during this interview, allowing bitcoin to exist does not equal the enactment of a legal tender law (as was the case in El Salvador). While legal tender laws impose the use of a currency “from above” and ask every merchant in the country to accept it for payments, a free market allows everyone to use any kind of money they prefer. Also, it seems like Argentina is heading towards dollarization – the only question is related to the environment in which the US dollar is going to exist. Will it be monopolistic, or will the market be open for bitcoin too?

In the last part of the interview, Rodolfo Andragnes offers some practical advice to foreigners who are about to come to Buenos Aires. First and foremost, they should be aware that there’s a Taylor Swift concert which takes place at the same time – and therefore most hotels are overbooked. Secondly, USD to Argentine peso exchange rates are terrible at the airport and much better on the free market. And thirdly, more than 200 speakers will make presentations related to the topic of “revolution” across multiple stages: it’s impossible to see everything, and every participant much choose their own experience (with no option to later watch recordings).

“Bitcoin is here to promote freedom, transparency, and property. It’s not necessarily embraced by governments, companies, or new regulations. It’s a revolution we need to defend.” – Rodolfo Andragnes, 2023

The Evolution of Labitconf

Rodolfo Andragnes shared the challenges of organizing the event for over ten years and the changes they have made in 2023. This includes a larger team and seven stages for attendees to choose from. He emphasized the importance of attending the conference to experience the vibe and spirit of the event.

The tickets are currently priced at $100, and approximately 200 speakers have been confirmed two weeks before the event. The focus this year is on economic and regulatory discussions, given Argentina’s hyperinflationary situation which is at play in the upcoming presidential elections. Rodolfo mentioned that they have decided to keep Labitconf in Argentina for the next few years to promote Bitcoin in the local scene.

The Potential Impact of a Libertarian President (Javier Milei) on Bitcoin

Rodolfo Andragnes discussed the potential impact of a libertarian president in Argentina on the use of cryptocurrencies. He explained that while it is unlikely that Bitcoin will become a legal tender in the country, the focus should be on allowing free trade and contracts with private money.

Currently, there is no specific regulation regarding Bitcoin in Argentina, but it has been gaining popularity – with around 10-12 million Argentinians having some involvement with cryptocurrencies. Rodolfo believes that the example set by Argentina, if it adopts a free market approach to private digital money, could influence other Latin American countries to do the same.

Bitcoin as a Free and Independent Currency

We also discussed the concept of Bitcoin as a free and independent currency, unaffected by government regulations. Rodolfo emphasized that the Bitcoin community does not care about government involvement and only focuses on the freedom and decentralization that Bitcoin offers.

The Previous Year’s Labitconf Event and Expectations for This Year

In 2022, Labitconf had over 10,000 attendees and exceeded expectations. This year, they expect similar numbers, especially with the emerging bull market. The theme of the 2023 event is “revolution,” highlighting the need to defend Bitcoin’s principles and promote freedom and transparency.

Inviting Presidential Candidates to Speak at the Conference

Due to the timing of the event being close to the presidential elections, it may be challenging to get presidential candidates on stage. However, Javier Milei is invited to speak. Other political figures from Latin America, including well-known economist and presidential candidate from Peru Hernando de Soto, have confirmed their participation.

The High Inflation Rate in Argentina

We briefly discussed the high inflation rate in Argentina, with Rodolfo mentioning it is around 180%. He explained that due to this phenomenon, prices of products change daily. This makes it difficult to determine if something is cheap or expensive.

Practical Advice on Booking Hotels and Exchanging Money

Rodolfo advised against booking hotels online and suggested paying in cash in pesos at the venue to take advantage of the official exchange rate. He also recommended exchanging dollars for pesos in the black (as in free) market to get a better value.

Connecting with Local Argentinian Communities

Rodolfo mentioned the Telegram group “Bitcoin Argentina” and the Facebook group of the same name as places to connect with locals and get advice on trading prices. Before your trip to Labitconf, you can make some friends who might be useful once you land in Buenos Aires.

The Potential Impact of Bitcoin in Argentina

Rodolfo Andragnes believes that Argentina is a good place to go and understand the potential impact of Bitcoin, especially considering factors such as possible presidential changes and the likely closure of the central bank (if Milei wins and keeps his word).

The Bitcoin Takeover Magazine

Rodolfo expressed his appreciation for the concept and design of the Bitcoin Takeover magazine. He mentioned receiving a previous edition and expressed interest in the new edition called “Breaking FUD,” which aims to address misconceptions about Bitcoin.

The Legality of Bitcoin in Bolivia

Rodolfo explained that Bitcoin is currently banned in Bolivia, but he believes that forbidding something does not necessarily prevent its use or discussion among individuals.

The Lineup of Speakers at the Upcoming Labitconf Event

Rodolfo mentioned that the CEO Xapo is attending (though Wences Casares won’t make it) and there are many other notable speakers including Álvaro D. María, Elizabeth Stark, John Light, and the president of Liberland.

The Bilingual of the Event

The event consists of both English and Spanish content, with around 40% of it being in English. The main focus of the event is discussions on topics like inflation, economy, and monetization, with a particular emphasis on Argentina as an example for the world.

Staying Updated with the Latest Announcements

Rodolfo suggests following the event on Twitter and Instagram, as well as checking the event’s website for updates on the agenda and speaker information.

Listen to Rodolfo Andragnes talk about Labitconf 2023 and the Argentinian Presidential Elections on Apple Podcasts, Spotify & YouTube!

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Time stamps:

Introductions [00:01:11] Welcoming Rodolfo Andragnes to the Bitcoin Takeover podcast, mentioning the upcoming Labitconf event in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Organizing Labitconf [00:02:05] Rodolfo Andragnes discusses the challenges of organizing the Labitconf event and the changes made for this year’s edition.

Javier Milei’s impact on Bitcoin adoption [00:11:57] Discussion about the potential impact of the upcoming presidential elections in Argentina on the local bitcoin scene.

Legal Tender and Free Currency [00:12:29] We discuss the concept of legal tender, the importance of having free currency, and the potential impact of a libertarian president.

Current Legal Status of Bitcoin in Argentina [00:14:33] While there is no active regulation regarding Bitcoin in Argentina, some regulations interact with crypto assets and there are taxes on capital gains.

Bitcoin as Legal Tender and its Impact [00:17:47] Rodolfo Andragnes explains the unrealistic expectation of Bitcoin becoming a legal tender in Argentina and the potential influence of Argentina’s policies on other Latin American countries.

Bitcoin as Legal Tender [00:25:47] Discussion about the pros and cons of countries adopting bitcoin as legal tender.

El Salvador’s Implementation [00:26:22] Differentiating between El Salvador’s implementation of bitcoin as legal tender and the concept of legal tendering bitcoin in every country.

Revolution and Defending Bitcoin [00:34:51] Exploring the concept of revolution and the need to defend bitcoin’s principles and philosophy.

The impact of inflation on daily prices [00:36:47] Rodolfo explains how inflation affects the prices of products on a daily basis and the challenges of comparing prices.

Safety concerns in Buenos Aires [00:39:18] Exploration of whether Buenos Aires is less safe than previous years and the prevalence of crime in certain areas.

Practical advice for attending the conference [00:42:34] Tips on booking hotels, exchanging money, and navigating the Argentinian black market for better exchange rates.

Bitcoin in Argentina [00:49:26] Discussion on the impact of Bitcoin in an inflationary country like Argentina and why it is a good place to understand the potential impact in other countries.

Bitcoin Takeover Magazine [00:53:33] Conversation about the Bitcoin Takeover magazine, its design, and its relevance to the event.

Breaking FUD [00:55:26] Introduction to the Breaking FUD project, which aims to address and debunk the top ten biggest misconceptions about Bitcoin.

Topics being discussed at Labitconf 2023 [01:03:15] Rodolfo Andragnes discusses the main topics of discussion at Labitconf: inflation, economy, and monetization.

Vlad Costea

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