World first: Bitcoin becomes the official currency of a country

Bitcoin becomes the national currency of Atlantis…. no, seriously! The entire scene which surrounded Bitcoin when it first rose to popularity fell into two camps – those who had strong belief in the underlying technology such as blockchain, and those who viewed virtual currencies from an almost anarchistic perspective, and gained some degree of limelight by […]

Bitcoin becomes the national currency of Atlantis…. no, seriously!

The entire scene which surrounded Bitcoin when it first rose to popularity fell into two camps – those who had strong belief in the underlying technology such as blockchain, and those who viewed virtual currencies from an almost anarchistic perspective, and gained some degree of limelight by touting their anti-central government diatribe in a maverick-like fashion.

The latter of these has almost died out completely, giving way to regulatory approval and national virtual currency infrastructure, including substantial, VC-backed technological development enterprises and exchanges.

…or has it?

There is still evidence that the anti-establishment aspect of Bitcoin is alive and well, as it has now become the national currency of a country for the very first time.

The country is not, however, Argentina or Thailand, two of the nations which the Bitcoin proponents considered likely candidates for the replacement of fiat currency with virtual currency as Argentina’s capital control laws and inflationary, unreliabel peso bombed and citizens began implementing Bitcoin payment technology in their businesses to the point that Bitcion in mid 2013 was worth over 30% more than in neighboring Uruguay.

This did not happen, of course. Today marks the day that Bitcoin is adopted as an actual national currency of a country, completely displacing all fiat currency, however the nation in which this has happened is equally representative of anti-establismentism as Bitcoin itself.

It is not Argentina, nor is it Thailand. It is actually a small island called Pontinha, which is a self-proclaimed country off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean.

The country is currently undergoing a name change to Atlantis, after the mythical territory, and its Prime Minister, the amusingly named Joby Weeks, has confirmed that this is the first country in the world to make Bitcoin its official currency.

Mr. Weeks is currently looking into the possibility of creating an e-passport and e-residency for Pontinha citizens, however whilst this may sound like an exciting breakthrough and grabs the attention of every fintech enthusiast out there, it is a little less significant than it may at first seem.

Whilst in itself, the adoption by Pontinho of Bitcoin as a national currency is indeed a world first, the country itself is self-proclaimed, and only has four citizens.

It was founded as a micronation by Renato Barros, a 56-year old art teacher, who now goes by the name of Prince Renato Barros.

Prince Barros said

“There are four citizens: me, my wife, my son and my daughter. I am the police, the gardener, everything.”

“I am whatever I want to be – that’s the dream, isn’t it? If I decide I want to have a national song, I can choose it, and I can change it any time. The same with my flag – it could be blue today, red tomorrow.”

Portinho is still some way from being recognized by the international community as a bona fide country, however this is indeed a genuine world first, and could be followed up by the construction of a central bank which would potentially be akin to a Bitcoin exchange.

It seems that the venture capital funds, technology developers and maverick Bitcoin proponents have now been joined by the hippies in their quest to take virtual currency to a higher status.

Photograph: Athanasius Kircher’s Atlantis

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