Inside Bitcoin Lake: Lessons From My Months As A Volunteer With Guatemala’s Groundbreaking Project
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A volunteer from Guatemala’s Bitcoin Lake project shares the rewards of working on this circular economy.
Bitcoin is a disruptive technology that has emerged as a fundamental component of the financial industry. My work at Bitcoin-friendly companies has allowed me to observe the many ways in which Bitcoin is transforming the industry. Looking to contribute more, I embarked on a Bitcoin-only journey and joined the non-profit project, Bitcoin Lake.
Located in Panajachel, Guatemala, Bitcoin Lake launched just over a year ago. The project aims to create a circular economy powered by Bitcoin, providing a novel and accessible solution for unbanked as well as banked merchants. In Guatemala, approximately 60% of the adult population doesn’t have access to formal financial services, and Bitcoin Lake’s initiative to onboard merchants has a significant impact on the local community.
I have seen firsthand that this project has successfully onboarded more than 60 merchants, of whom 90% are unbanked and solely accept cash and bitcoin. The project continues to seek support and ways to enhance the experience for the Bitcoiners there. The Bitcoin tuk tuk (see figure one below) and the Bitcoin boat (cleverly named “Peer To Peer”) are examples of such initiatives.
Figure one: A Bitcoin-themed version of a tuk tuk, a very common vehicle in Panajachel.
Bitcoin Lake has made significant strides in a short period. Business owners are astounded by the ease of using Bitcoin, and the education projects have been an outstanding success. Centro Educativo Josué, Guatemala’s first school to receive the “Mi Primer Bitcoin” course, has seen its students gain an exceptional understanding of Bitcoin. The progress and impact of Bitcoin Lake are significant and serve as an inspiration to all.
During my first month volunteering with Bitcoin Lake, my understanding and dedication to Bitcoin has grown significantly. As one of my first tasks, I collected data to assess the progress made in one year. As shown in figures two, three and four below, charts illustrate the flow of bitcoin in the project and the number of transactions completed within the past year, indicating significant growth.
Figure two: 4,674 transactions were made in 2022, per Bitcoin Beach Wallet data
Figure three: Bitcoin Lake had a Bitcoin volume of 7.39 BTC in 2022, per Bitcoin Beach Wallet data
I also started teaching “Mi Primer Bitcoin” courses at the local school, where it’s been rewarding to see kids grasp the concept of money and the potential benefits of Bitcoin. In January, we held our first meetup with 10 attendees, and we plan to host more events in the future. We’ve also been orange pilling local merchants and meeting Bitcoiners from around the world. All of our efforts give me hope for a better future, not only for the project but for the whole country.
The past year was challenging for the Bitcoin industry, with a lot of lost trust and a bear market that hit hard. However, we persevered and continued to focus on growth and adoption. Even with the uncertainty and skepticism from those who don’t understand Bitcoin, more people are taking the time to learn about it and recognize its value. Merchants are realizing that they can benefit from holding bitcoin instead of cashing out instantly, and locals are becoming more familiar with Bitcoin, making them more receptive to the idea of adopting this new technology.
Merchants like Pedro, the owner of Café del Arte, a small, family business that accepts bitcoin, are embracing the benefits of using this technology. As explained by Pedro, the act of accommodating credit card payments comes with an attached cost and a slowed-down payment process, whereas opting for Bitcoin presents an instant, cheaper and more streamlined avenue with the Lightning Network.
We’ve seen many similar success stories from other merchants, which is gratifying. At the local school, Centro Educativo Josué, students are learning about Bitcoin, its value and its ability to solve issues like inflation. On April 12, we’ll be testing our students’ knowledge of Bitcoin, and we’re confident that they’ll be well prepared. You are welcome to be one of the plebs to test the students by reaching out to Bitcoin Lake on Twitter.
Bitcoin Lake has made tremendous strides in promoting a circular economy with Bitcoin. I encourage anyone interested in supporting adoption and experiencing the beautiful views, culture and hospitality of Panajachel to visit us. You’ll be amazed by the progress we’ve made, and the merchants will be thrilled to accept your sats. Together, we can create a better future with Bitcoin.
This is a guest post by Rudy Gallardo. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.