The University of Aruba, Center for Life Long Learning recently organized a meet on the subject of Bitcoin, titled Opportunities for Aruba.

About 100 attendees both live and virtual via a zoom webinar enjoyed a presentation, and later conducted an exchange with the speakers in a panel format. Most members of the audience belonged to the Aruba Investment Study Club, of the University of Aruba.

Nice to know such animal exists.

The three speakers, well-known personalities in our community shed some light on Crypto.

I asked at least one of them, if he is a bitcoin millionaire by now, in view of the fact that the virtual currency went from 1/10 of a cent to $40.000, and he regretfully admitted that no, it is difficult to access opportunities from Aruba due to restrictions by the…. drum roll, please…. the Central Bank.

You should meet the speakers: Stefan Oosterwaal MSc. He gave an introduction to the bitcoin network, and explained how it works, and what the practical applications are.

Stefan obtained his MBA from the University of Aruba in 2013, he is a home grown expert, a business owner, Linda’s pancakes, in Noord, and an early bitcoin advocate. In 2014 his restaurant became the first on the island to start accepting bitcoin. Since then he has become a Certified Bitcoin Professional and has been learning as much as possible about this new technology.

Stefan reports that we should be talking about bitcoin since El Salvador made it a legal tender and a number of other countries, Paraguay, Panama, Cuba, are looking exploring possibilities, especially those where access to banking is limited. PS. The IMF doesn’t like it all.

Aruba apparently has some virtual asset legislation already, which might pave the way to crypto but the banks consider all crypto transactions risky, shady and suspicious, and block attempts to introduce.

Anthony Thijssen M.D., talked about why Aruba needs bitcoin. He explained how bitcoin promotes human rights, for example, according to the UN Aruba shelters 12.000 to 17.000 undocumented residents that have no access to banking, cannot pay taxes nor participate legally in the economy and a crypto currency would open opportunities for them. Women in the ultra-orthodox Muslim countries, could also benefit in countries where they cannot open a bank account. Anthony was born and raised in Rotterdam after completing his propaedeutic degree in Industrial Design at the University of Delft, he obtained a medical degree at the University of Utrecht and specialized in radiology. He moved to Aruba in 2017 to work at the hospital as a radiologist. Around that time his interest in bitcoin sparked, as both an observer and an investor. He has been studying the technology, economics and social aspects of this fascinating phenomenon, for a long time.

Dr. Rendell de Kort, reports that 1% of the world assets are held in bitcoin which seems insignificant, but it is huge. And it has become increasingly important to recognize the possibilities of digital currencies. Randell started as a research economist at CBS, the Central Bank of Aruba, where he served as the secretary to the Monetary Policy Committee, and the Public Sector Coordination Committee. As a consultant for advisory firm Cornerstone Economics, he currently assists NGOs and business achieve social impact. In addition, he conducts research at the University of Aruba and provides technical assistance on Disaster Risk Financing to Caribbean OCTs, as consultant to the World Bank. He holds a postgraduate diploma in Economics from the University of Nottingham and a master’s degree in Development Economics from the University of Manchester.

Rendell reports there was a lot of interest in the question and answer portion of the evening, and though it is not clear why certain countries introduced bitcoin, and others want to hear nothing about it, it will be of great help to 5 million undocumented people, living in the region.


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February 08, 2022
Rona Coster