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This week, in Episode 32, we talk to Patrick Melder, the founder of Bitcoin Lago in Guatemala where he’s creating a circulair Bitcoin community!
With Lake Bitcoin, Patrick believes that people will eventually start using Bitcoin and Lightning if we just show how it works and what benefits it can bring to the whole area around the lake.
We talk about his project to use organic waste to create methane and energy for Bitcoin mining. He also shares the impact Alex Gladstein had on him and his thoughts about the positive social consequences Bitcoin can have on certain regions in the world.
The national currency of Guatalama is the Quetzal. This is also the national bird of the country, the logo of Lago Bitcoin also contains the Quetzal. Why did you choose a derived symbol of the native fiat money of Guatemala?
I think that is looking at it backwards. It’s the national bird of the country and a beloved symbol. The fiat system has taken many symbols that are dear to us and corrupted them. I want to restore the true meaning and beauty of the Quetzal. Also, the region we are doing our work in is predominately indigenous people, the Quetzal and their Mayan heritage is very important. I don’t want there to be another “gringo” symbol that they have to identify with.
Why did you choose Guatemala to start this project and not another country in this region?
Better weather conditions or is the law more convenient?
My family and I had worked there in Panajachel from 2012 – 2018 at the same school doing an art camp every summer. It was a natural re-connection to bring this technology to the school. In essence, bringing a STEM (Science, Tech, Math) course to this school in Guatemala.
What percentage of the population of Guatemala knows about bitcoin and lightning?
That is hard to say, but I would say it’s low single digits.
You want to provide economic stability for Guatemalans around the lake and generational wealth to pass on. And to teach children about the Bitcoin technology. How will Bitcoin tourism help you to reach this goal?
The lake region is heavily dependent on tourism and was severely affected by COVID. If we bring another source of tourism – the Bitcoin tourists who are wealthy and more willing to travel in such circumstances, then this will help the community.
Why is it so important to teach children and to get them involved early on in this technology?
Because they are the future. I think if any of us had a good foundational knowledge of what sound money is at this age, we might not have the world as we see it now. Children are the future, so they must be taught what is sound money so they can identify bad money.
In El Zonte Mike Peterson received a huge unknown donation to set up a circulair Bitcoin community. At Lake Bitcoin you are trying to make an appeal from within. People will eventually start using Bitcoin and Lightning if we just show how it works and what benefits it can bring to the environment they live in.
What is your role as a Christian missionary in this way of thinking?
My Christian worldview is why I’m even doing this. This doesn’t mean you have to be a Christian to do something like this, it just means for me that it is what motivates me to be doing what I am doing. But I always say that what we are doing is not evangelical, anyone from any faith can help with what we are doing.
When you compare the method that has been applied in El Zonte in El Salvador and that you apply in Lake Bitcoin, there are big differences. You believe in the role of the millennials! And therefore the mean difference is that you first want adoption and awareness to be teached to the children first instead of going directly to the merchants for example.
Why do you believe this will work best in the end?
Because while we all may “see that something is wrong,” millennial are in a unique position to do something about what is wrong. They have never had economic opportunity – they were born into the great financial crisis and now we are living through some of the worst inflation in modern history. If they don’t do something, they will suffer. They understand this. And they are a very social active generation.
What are the reasons for choosing the Bitcoin Beach wallet made by GaloyMoney to use at Lake Bitcoin and not other wallets?
The main factor was the “map” feature within the app and the “user name” function – similar to Strike. The map, though, is the coolest feature that allows us to show other people how many businesses are using bitcoin around the lake.
On a scale from 1 to 10 how skeptical are people if they hear for the first time of bitcoin and lighting in the region of the lake … and what causes this fact
10. It’s a new money and it’s a new technology. We all know from experience that a new technology is usually always very scary. On top of that you add this layer of it being a new money – very scary.
How do you explain people in Guatemala and especially the region around lake titilan what lighting is , how it works and why they should use it?
You don’t need to explain lightning – you just show them what it does – I can’t think of a single time we have shown it and people aren’t interested. When we show it – it is always an eye opening experience. That doesn’t mean they always start using it, but it is always an eye-opening experience.
Can you give us an indication about when lightning payments are the dominant payment method in Guatemala or the region of lake Titilan?
I would say that when it becomes the dominant form of payment in El Salvador (which its not), we will be 12-18 months behind them.
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Around 300.000 people live around the lake area. Your ultimate goal is to help the environment of all these people, clean the lake of waste and to have them all use bio energy. Bitcoin miners are helping to reach this goal. Can you share the proof of concept you are doing with S9’s?
Our first project will be to use organic waste to create methane which we can use to create energy and mine bitcoin.
Why do you think that the ability of renewables in Bitcoin mining is viable?
Because every form of renewable energy is available around the lake. We have the motivation to make this happen. Once the economic incentive is understood – everyone will want to participate.
And how important will this be the continued existence of Bitcoin and Lightning?
Very important. I think all Bitcoiners believe that our survival as the human race depends on Bitcoin working. So yeah, it’s really important.
With the use of bio energy for mining and combining this with the use of batteries you said that it is possible to make it 90% efficient compared with only using solar energy. How does this work and is this the solution to the Duck Curve (never perfect sun or wind)?
That’s a complex topic, but essentially the sun isn’t always shinning and the wind isn’t always blowing. So you have to have batteries for storage or excess energy and and the ability to balance load – what’s called demand response. Bitcoin mining allows you to do this.
Shit is money says the farmer and he shits in his wallet => old flemish saying
Your goal is to make a reliable and sustainable energy grid with solar energy, bio digesters, animal waste and potential human waste. How long will this take until everything is rolled out and approved to move the project to another place in the world?
I’m hoping that we have a “plug and play” model within the next two years.
What are the steps you take, to create a circular Bitcoin economy in Lago Bitcoin.
We introduce Bitcoin, we educate, and we do business with businesses that accept bitcoin
Is it ever possible that Bitcoin will contribute to the basic income of all residents?
Absolutely, that’s one of our goals with our mining project.
Alex Gladstein had a huge impact on your thinking. Has he triggered your belief that there will be many more young visionaries that are done with how everything works nowadays and are searching for a change with a real effect in their life and the future?
100%. This is really a follow on to the previous question.
If you take a step back from Lake Bitcoin: Do you think it’s important that people are able to choose for themselves which Lightning wallet they want to use?
Of course, Bitcoin is all about doing your own research. I’m totally in favor of choice. For us, though, we want everyone to start by speaking the same “Bitcoin language” that’s why we only use one wallet.
What does self-sovereignty mean for you personally?
Being free to do what you want, when you want, with yourself and your money.
What specific things about Bitcoin you don’t understand yet, but really want to learn?
I’d really like to understand chain analysis.
You told the story of the slow process of you being orange pilled. That you’ve read The Creature from Jekyll Island for example and you listened to Saifedean, Stephan Livera. What is the biggest problem in the world today?
I’m not sure I can say what the biggest problem in the world is. I don’t presume to be that smart, but what I will say is that mass media has dumbed down our critical thinking skills.
Cashing out is very important because people still have expenses to be paid in Quetzal or Dollars? What are the solutions for this in the future? Will the Bitcoin Beach wallet help?
Yes, the BBW is working on a stable coin platform so people can store USD on their wallet to avoid the volatility of Bitcoin’s price.
You believe Bitcoin is superior to every other Crypto currency. Why is that?
It would be hard not to look at the events from the past several weeks and not think that the biggest difference between Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is its immutability.
Do you know people who are running a Bitcoin node or Lightning Node in Guatemala? How do you teach/ educate them?
The only people I know running a node in Guatemala are the children at the school we teach at. It was very important for us to complete the Bitcoin circle at the school by teaching about Bitcoin, setting up a full node and even running a miner.