Wenceslao Casares (Buenos Aires, 1974) , created in 1997 Patagon.com, the first online bank in Latin America. Three years later, Santander bought it for 540 million euros. The emerging world of video games caught his attention, hence the studio Wanako Games, bought by Activision in 2006, was born. Then came Lemon, a payment application that invited to leave the cards at home.
He sold it when he reached five million users to return to the field he knows best: finance. Although with a variant, he did not know anything about cryptocurrency, new currencies whose trace can be followed through the Internet, and the bitcoins sounded remote. Two years later, he believes that we are facing a historic revolution. Your bet is Xapo. There are also more and more cryptocurrency online casino sites.
The idea arose from an international transaction with friends of his country after a joint purchase. Something as simple as paying off debt was an impossible mission with Argentine legislation. They opted to use bitcoins. “In Buenos Aires they are in a corner, with mobile phones, to make purchases in bitcoins. In a short time I went from skeptic to dump in it, “he explains.
He is considered a museum piece in Silicon Valley, a ‘serial entrepreneur’, a label from which he flees: “I would rather have done business and stay in it, make it grow. My goal is to find one I do not want to get rid of. The energy that is put into each one is unimaginable. I think with Xapo I’ll be busy for quite some time. ”
Xapo is a tool for making transactions with bitcoins. A mobile application that allows you to buy them through credit or debit cards, even buys with them. The company has 40 employees that are distributed between the headquarters of Palo Alto, where the founder lives, a center in Buenos Aires and another in Switzerland. Xapo wants to create the security standard of bitcoins with verification in 48 hours before the withdrawal, use of encrypted servers and disconnected from the Internet.
The Bitcoin phenomenon seems to him a little extended. It makes a simile to be understood better: “The world of bitcoin, right now, is like when you used the Internet without a browser. Xapo wants to be that tool that popularizes it. ” Within the application allows to associate credit cards of banks but paying with bitcoins.
The business for Xapo is in its storage, in the exit or entry of its security systems. Another point in its favor, the simplicity of use similar to that of banking applications. The digital currency consists of 21 million units. Not one more nor less. According to his data, seven million people have bitcoins, but only half a million make transactions with them. Its current value would be the equivalent of 5,000 million dollars.
They have just launched their service in 80 countries, but not in the United States, where it is necessary to have a side that supports. Neither in Cuba, Iran and North Korea. He believes that the climate experienced in Silicon Valley, its openness to new ideas, has made it possible to believe here, even if it does not work. In July they raised an investment of around 40 million dollars.
The previous one, in March, was 20 million. Among the investors are the Winklevoss brothers, the twins who claimed to be co-founders of Facebook, as well as Jerry Jang, co-founder of Yahoo !. What does not reveal is the number of bitcoins that treasure, nor the number of users in the application. “Banks do not say it either,” is justified.
He does recognize that his popularization is taking longer than expected and that he is still very volatile: “It will continue like this for three to five years. Right now there is almost a 50% chance of buying and nothing happens. ”
At the same time it takes away the importance of losses: “In general, it is money that can be lost. Many clients use it as an alternative to hedge funds, at least in the more developed world. In the developing world it is a guarantee, they know that if they leave it in Argentine rupees or pesos, in the long run, they would lose “.
Casares is facing a historic revolution: “For more than 5,000 years gold has been the standard. Then came the pound, the dollar … The bitcoin will occupy that place. It is durable, recognizable, portable and divisible. It has all the guarantees of money, but without the bank behind. It’s a good pattern, but you do not need an intermediary to send it, “he adds.