The last part of our Euro Tour started in Barcelona, Spain. Our advisor August Corrons invited us to take part in an introductory seminar on blockchain at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), where a series of excellent speakers presented the fundamentals of the technology and demystified some common misconceptions. In our case, we were asked to provide our vision of blockchain’s potential to transform both business and society. Our presentation caught the attention of many people within the audience, comprised by academics, technologists and entrepreneurs alike, which led to a very enriching debate on current topics such as community currencies and the possibility of shifting our societies towards a more democratic economic paradigm.
Among the audience were some colleagues from the european blockchain ecosystem, with whom we kept discussing this engaging topics. Like Andreu Honzawa from Ubiquat (the company that provides technical support for Santa Coloma’s local currency, the Grama), Stefania Canu from Sardex.net (who worked with them in a local currency initiative in Kenya), Miguel Benavent de B from B-ecosystem (a crowdfunding platform for impact oriented projects) and Francisco Sarrias, business developer at Jelurida (the company responsible for the creation of the Ardor and NXT blockchains). We would like to thank August for inviting us to take part in such an interesting and insightful encounter!
The next day the UOC hosted a meet-up for us, so the people that had attended our presentation the day before could come to learn more about WABA.network. As we had already done in Berlin, we were able to present our project to a wide variety of attendees, including civil servants that were working with complementary currencies in their municipalities (or were about to start).
After our meet-up we met with Stefania Canu again, to learn more about her work with community currencies in Catalonia and her previous experience with Sardex.net in Kenya, led by William Ruddick. She provided us with useful insight into the strategies applied by Sardex.net to build their mutual credit system, and described the opportunities she sees in the Catalonian community currencies ecosystem. We were glad to get to know her and the initiative she is working at in Barcelona, called Turuta. Thank you Stefania for your time!
From Barcelona we flew to Sardinia, Italy, to meet with the Sardex.net team in the city of Serramanna. Sardex.net acts as a complementary market for all member SMEs, which enables them to optimize their productive capacity, finance themselves at zero-interest rate and increase their customer base using a novel and inexpensive financing and marketing tool.
We had a very illustrative meeting with Giuseppe Littera and Giovanni Dini, from their R&D team, and Luca Carboni, their CTO. We found their methods for creating mutual credit systems to be replicable within the communities we work with in Argentina, like MonedaPAR. We also had the chance to discuss several key aspects of our project, like our business model, the technology our platform will operate with, and the need to provide strategic advice to communities to increase their chances of developing a successful new currency.
We also learnt about Bisoo, their new currency for local shops, which aims to open up Sardex.net’s commercial credit circuit to individual consumers. It has already been implemented in Serramanna, and is expected to expand gradually across Sardinia.
After leaving Sardinia we returned to Spain, this time to Madrid. There we presented our project in a meet-up organized by Blockchain 4 Humanity and held at GoMadrid’s offices, which we had the pleasure to share with our colleagues from EthicHub, a blockchain-based crowdlending platform that facilitates access to credit to small farmers around the world. As in Barcelona, the audience was very diverse and both presentations were followed by very engaging debates with the crowd.
After the meet-up we had the chance to meet with Julio Gisbert, president of the Association for the Development of Time Banks and author of the book Vivir sin Empleo (“Living without a job”), with whom we had already met in Dublin. Julio has almost 30 years of experience in the development of social currencies and is one of the founders of the Social Currency Institute. Talking to him was extremely valuable for us, as he gave us a very precise panorama of the state of Time Banks in Spain and Latin America. In turn, we committed to grant Julio and all of his projects full access to test our platform.
One of the biggest highlights of the spanish part of our Euro Tour was the NON central CONF, organized by Blockchain 4 Humanity in the city of León. We were invited by Álex Casas, one of Blockchain 4 Humanity’s co-founders, and we had the honour of being one of the two projects that received a grant from the organization to attend. NON central CONF was an outstanding event, as it gathered different projects, entrepreneurs and blockchain enthusiasts that believe this technology can bring about more interesting things than just easy money from speculation.
We had the chance to present our project and take part in the panel “Are we ready to change the world?”, moderated by Álex, which we shared with Jacob Piotrowski from Give Bytes, Vojtech Simetka from Giveth and Gabriela Chang Valdovinos from EthicHub. This was a great opportunity to exchange insightful opinions, experiences and visions with the founders of several interesting projects, with which WABA.network has a lot in common.
During the event we also met people interested in developing community currencies in different parts of Spain, with whom we are already exploring different collaboration opportunities. Last but not least, the cryptocurrency-specialized news website Forklog made us an interview about community currencies, EOS blockchain and how our platform combines them, which is soon to be published.
We would like to thank Álex Casas not only for inviting us and being so hospitable, but also for the efforts he put into gathering such a wide and diverse group of people, who are trying to use blockchain to build a better world. It was truly inspiring to meet them and all their wonderful initiatives.
After Non Central Conf we headed to Mondragón, Spain, where we were invited by Jose Orbaiceta, president of Cooperar.coop. There we visited the Mondragon Corporation’s headquarters to present our project and meet with Javier Goienetxea Urkaregi (president of the Consejo Superior de Cooperativas de Euskadi), Ander Etxeberria (Cooperative Dissemination at Mondragón Corporation) and Luis Molins (the Corporation’s CTO), to learn more about their work.
It was extremely interesting to learn the history of Mondragón, which went from a 7000 people town in the 50’s to a cooperative industrial export hub in the present. The key to their success is great education combined with a revenue sharing model and a cooperative credit system for their cooperatives. In addition, in case of bankruptcy of any of the Corporation’s members the rest of the partners secure the employment of the bankrupted company’s associates.
We look forward to meet them again at “The V Cooperative Summit of the Americas” that will be held in Buenos Aires in October, where Javier will be a speaker and we will present MonedaPAR. Mondragon Corporation will also participate at the Global Social Economy Forum, which will also take place in October in Bilbao. We hope we can make it there too!
From Spain we flew to Paris, France, to present WABA.network at a meet-up organized by StartupToken, a well-known blockchain accelerator. There our Co-CEO Sebastián Valdecantos got an interview where he described our value proposition for StartupToken’s team of advisors, and he took part in a roundtable about blockchain and social impact.
After that we had the chance to pitch our project to an audience of blockchain and crypto experts, and we had a meeting with StartupToken’s team to evaluate the possibility of joining efforts to make WABA.network bigger and stronger. We hope to have more good news on this soon!
Paris also gave us the chance to meet with two eminences in heterodox economics and social currencies: Jacques Mazier and Bruno Thèret. Bruno, with whom we had previously met at the International Conference on Social Currencies, shared with us his impressions on our advances and on the state of community currencies in France. He seemed very enthusiastic about our platform’s potential to boost existing community currencies and create new ones. Meanwhile, Jacques found very interesting our idea of applying the clearing principle under the form of a multilateral clearing system to allow community currencies to be interoperable.
After Paris we returned to Italy, this time to Avigliana, for the International Roundtable for Cooperation on Open-Source ICT development for Solidarity Economy and Community Currency Systems at the Festival Altravelocità. We were invited to the event by its organizer Teodoro Criscione, and selected as a “relevant actor and significant contributor” for it.
At the festival we presented our project and shared our vision with knowledgeable experts in social economy and complementary currencies. One of them was Matthew Slater, Co-founder & CTO at Community Forge, with whom we explored different collaboration possibilities. Also present at the event were the team behind LINX, a mutual credit system originated in the Sardex.net project, and members of the Coop Devs team, who have a vast experience building timebanks.
In addition, we got to learn about the experience of a large community of small sicilian producers, some of which were present at the festival. It was very interesting to learn how integrating logistics systems with a local currency can effectively empower communities like theirs.
The very last stop in our 2018 Euro Tour was at Rabat, Malta. Alex Bausch and Nils Veenstra, partners at Becon Global, invited us there to take part in the Malta edition of the conference, deliver a presentation about our project and meet investors, potential beneficiaries of the platform’s monetary systems and other key players from the local blockchain ecosystem. This opportunity also helped us strengthen our relationship with Alex and Nils, to whom we are very grateful and with whom we hope to be able to keep working together.
Back in Buenos Aires
After spending 6 amazing weeks on the road, visiting 17 cities in 9 different countries and delivering presentations and workshops in 15 events, it was time to return to Argentina. Now we are bringing back to Buenos Aires all the energy and desire to improve the project that we received from the countless experts, enthusiasts, investors, communities and organizations that gave us their support in Europe.
Thank you all for making this trip such an empowering and fruitful experience for WABA.network!