Madeira, a tiny Portuguese archipelago, has “adopted Bitcoin (BTC).” But what does this mean? The announcement was made at the Bitcoin 2022 conference, Miami. It has caused confusion and misinformation.
Miguel Albuquerque (the president of the Regional Government of Madeira) took to the stage in April to declare: “I believe that the future is possible, and I believe Bitcoin.” But details remain elusive.
Cointelegraph spoke with Andre Loja (a Madeiran entrepreneur) to learn more about how Bitcoin is influencing the development of the archipelago.
Madeira was a star on the Bitcoin world map when JAN3 CEO Samson Mow announced that it would be “adopting Bitcoin”
The world saw reports that Madeira had adopted Bitcoin legal tender. However, the news outlets did not report this. Loja told Cointelegraph that he preferred the phrase “Madeira embraces Bitcoin” prior to the announcement.
We embrace it, support it. We aren’t ‘adopting Bitcoin’ because it looks like we’re making it legal tender, when in fact it’s already legal.
In Madeira, Portugal (which is approximately 620 miles to its northeast), there is no tax on Bitcoin capital gains. This means that any Bitcoin capital gains made by Madeira residents are not subject to tax.
Loja orange-pilled Madeira’s president a few weeks before the conference. He shared his vision of Bitcoin as a way to not only attract foreign investment, but also to “protect my island” from the fiat system.
Albuquerque happened to be visiting Loja’s coworking space, which is one of few places in Madeira that accepts Bitcoin. Loja was thrilled to share his enthusiasm for Bitcoin. Madeira suffered from the COVID-19 epidemic, which saw critical tourism revenue drop off a cliff. Loja presented a Bitcoin future for the president to diversify and restructure Madeira’s economy.
According to reports, Albuquerque was open to the idea. Loja then sought out the support of Bitcoiners all over the globe, including Daniel Prince, a well-known Bitcoin podcaster; Jeff Booth author of The Price of Tomorrow; as well as Michael Saylor CEO of MicroStrategy.
Within weeks, the Bitcoiner all star team had contacted Bitcoin 2022 organizers to arrange for the president’s appearance. The opportunity to have the head of state from an autonomous region endorse Bitcoin was too great to pass up.
Loja joked that Albuquerque and Loja were invited to Saylor’s Miami villa “with the yachts, everything” upon landing in Miami. Although Loja had orange-pilled President Obama, Saylor’s conversation was more interesting.
“Michael Saylor sat with President Albuquerque. […] It was more like he sat with his head!”
Albuquerque was told by Saylor that “You must focus on Bitcoin.” The seminar prepared Saylor for his appearance in front of the 25,000 Bitcoin enthusiasts.
Loja explained that Madeira’s announcement of adopting Bitcoin would “kickstart an intent” for Madeira, where Bitcoin thrives with the people. Loja, who is a translator of popular Bitcoin-related books in Portuguese, said that education is the first step.
Loja (far right), President Albuquerque, (center with book), and Knut Svanholm. Madeira, May 2022. Source: Loja
Loja was actually born during the bear market in 2018. Loja is a passionate educator and works closely with other educators in this space such as Knut Stvanholm, author, Bitcoin: Everything Divided By 21 Million to teach the principles behind sound money.
“I have many ideas, from kindergartens to schools to adult workshops — I also want to bring people from other parts of the island. As consultants, the association will be able to attract the best people.
Loja has founded the Sound Money Foundation in Madeira to help people understand Bitcoin. Mow and Booth support the center, which aims to educate locals about cryptocurrency starting at a young age.
Loja’s hometown offers attractive fiscal incentives, as well as the education drive and a focus on “financial literacy.” Companies pay only 5% business taxes at the International Business Center. This is a very competitive rate. Portugal was already a hub for Bitcoiners. But companies can reap the rewards.
Related: El Salvador hosts Bitcoin, Bukele, and other central bankers.
Loja also plans to allow the autonomous government in Madeira to mine Bitcoin using leftover renewable energy. The island is blessed with sunlight and wind. Loja even proposes to use “a multisignature wallet” to enable the government to deal with Bitcoin financial.
Madeira’s International Business Center. Source: IBC
The government will take complete control of any Bitcoin mined by the grid, and the private keys. Loja noted that the electric power grid is an independent “public company,” and any Bitcoin mined from the grid would be placed in government multisig wallets.
Madeira’s approach towards Bitcoin is more than just the legal tender status. Madeira is moving slowly towards a Bitcoin future, with its public sector BTC mining, education, state-run multisig wallets, and Saylor on speed dial.
Loja’s holistic approach “embracing” Bitcoin is not surprising.
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