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Why Chile’s First Bitcoin Exchange Was Funded by the Government

Published: April 22, 2015
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Source: VICE

SurBTC represents a huge step forward for cryptocurrency in Chile. It's not just because the exchange exists at all, but because the government has essentially given the exchange its blessing by committing money as well as regulation and oversight in the form of financial audits and anti-money laundering regulation.

“The Chilean government appears to be open to supporting this technology and by agreeing to fund this startup has taken a different policy approach than many countries who have given digital currencies a cool reception,” said Matthew Burgoyne, a Canadian lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. “I’m about 99 percent sure the Canadian government has never provided financial support to any type of Bitcoin organization.”

While the UK and the US are edging closer to regulating Bitcoin exchanges in a similar fashion, Bitcoin still exists in a legal interzone as new uses are continually approved and policed on a case-by-case basis, like for political funding.

SurBTC’s funding came from the Production Development Corporation (CORFO), a business incubator under Chile’s Ministry of Economy, Development, and Tourism, SurBTC founder Guillermo Torrealba said. Use of the funding will be audited by the government, and SurBTC will be overseen by the Chilean Financial Intelligence Unit, an anti-money laundering department similar to the US’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

“Bitcoin is an incredible solution for many financial troubles in all of South America, like expensive remittance or lack of banking infrastructure,” Torrealba said. According to him, the money given by the government will be used for “everything besides buying infrastructure” and he hopes that SurBTC's funding success will inspire other Bitcoin entrepreneurs in Chile.

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