Hazael Dominguez interview with Doug Carillo on 7/2
This week's guest at our monthly Blockchain Beach meetup group is Hazael Dominguez, who joins us in a discussion about Carribbean finance needs, ...
What's up, party people? I am your fill-in-party-planner Doug Carillo with Bitstop in Blockchain Beach and we have Haz Dominguez today from Bitt to talk to us about their exchange in the Caribbean and some other cool projects that they're working on. All right, Haz, why don't you get us going by telling us a little bit about Bit. All right. So Bitt is the first and currently only Bitcoin company in the Caribbean and the purpose of Bitt is to provide exchange services, merchant services, and remittance services as well as other future service. Primarily what we're focusing on is the remittances. The Caribbean is a huge market for remittances.
I'm currently in the Dominican Republic because the Dominican Republic is the number one receiver of remittances in the Caribbean as well as Central America. So the purpose is essentially to have Bitcoin services accessible to the people of the Caribbean. Okay, cool. What's it like down there and what's the current status of adoption, I guess would be the best way to put it? Is there people interested in Bitcoin directly in the Caribbean or kind of more of what Bitt's bringing to the table? So people in the Caribbean, it's kind of mixed bag. I've been coming to the Dominican Republic and visiting the Caribbean and Latin America since I was a kid. And once the internet really took a foothold in these countries, progress from the technology side has been rampant.
So it's really easy to get fiber connections to your door, for example. Like I just had fiber installed at my grandma's house. But a lot of the issues in the Caribbean, Latin America stem from very slow government. So people are extremely interested in these types of technologies, they're very interested in what they can do, but the reality is that a lot of people simply don't understand what it is. They just think that it's something that matters. So for the most part the general understanding in the Caribbean is that Bitcoin is digital money.
And you'd be surprised how quick people here are to jump on that. So in the U.S. a lot of people say, "Well, I have cash currency and that's fine. And I don't really need anything digital." Here, on the other hand, people actually are scared of having cash.
The reason being in the Dominican Republic, for example, there's just a lot of crime. Police forces are very small and you'd be surprised to know that just about every private business here has an armed guard. So right now I am at a company called Intellisys. They've been generous enough to let me use their internet connection and all that, and there is a private guard outside with a shotgun carrying that around all day long. And that is simply because people are constantly harassing other people to steal cell phones, to steal money. So people are interested in moving towards digital currency as a way of being safer.
Okay. That's pretty interesting. It seems quite a tall order. What level are people, would you say, are educated in regards to Bitcoin and its use and is Bitt's strategy to try to have people using Bitcoin directly? Or rather kind of like a service where there is some custodial element involved or are you guys trying to really say, "Hey, this Bitcoin thing is something that you can use to kind of defer some of the risk of holding cash." Bitcoin is a good app. It's a pretty good currency app and we understand, especially probably watching the group of guys you've got going on right here that the underlying technology is really where it's at.
The point here isn't necessarily to try to get people to adopt more and more Bitcoin. I think the point here is to try to get people to use Bitcoin services but for that service to not necessarily present to the user, "Hey, you're using Bitcoin." Because at the end of the day, the person who's sending money from the U.S. or Europe into countries like the Dominican Republic, they're not really too concerned with the underlying technology, they're not too concerned if it's Western Union's backend, MoneyGram's back end, Swift, ACH. The idea is people need the money and that's about it.
And by being established in countries like this, what that means is that we as a company are trying to have the right licenses to actually perform money transfers. So it's really about providing a low-cost money transfer service to the people of the Caribbean. It's not necessarily to get them to adopt Bitcoin as a currency, even though that is a side-benefit of having an exchange service licensed to operate in ....
Okay. So when you guys see yourself as a remittance play, are you talking about Bitcoin into local currency out? Is that how you see yourself? Or like a full end-to-end solution where somebody on one of the countries in North America, or in the Northern hemisphere rather, sending money into the Caribbean via them not knowing that they're using Bitcoin? So coming to maybe like a gateway in Miami and a gateway sending Bitcoin to you guys. Or do you see, "Hey, we're going to accept Bitcoin from anyone in the world and cash out directly to people in the Caribbean." I think that's a really good question and that's probably part of the underlying strategy that hasn't been totally developed yet. But considering some of the aspects of the exchange, we'll see if I can pull something up here, basically the end goal isn't to have the consumer feel that this is a very different service from what they're already using. The better play is to use similar methodologies to the way that people already used other money transfer services.
So the added benefit being here that, obviously, when you're doing Bitcoin transactions, a lot of the transactions now are just you pull it from your bank account, transfer it into, or excuse me, they take the money from your bank account and then you exchange that for Bitcoins. So the benefit here is that that system already works. We understand that you can take money out of a bank account, and if you're properly licensed and following all of the rules, you can change that into Bitcoin. So the play is once we have the Bitcoins in the network now it's just about transferring that value to another place and then having that value be converted into the local currency. Sure, ..
. without a doubt, I think that definitely different Bitcoin gateways have much easier opportunity to connect to each other versus the way that the legacy system works. We're all speaking Bitcoin. We're in a good place. So what is the cash out option in the Caribbean? What do you guys see as a currency that's the most in demand and how does fiat currency work in the Caribbean? Sorry if it sounds like a stupid question but I haven't been down there too much. So basically, the way that fiat currency works here is essentially the same way that it works in the U.
S. One of the major differences being, for example, that in the Dominican Republic, the money isn't actually created here. It's not printed here. So they actually send it off, or excuse me, there's organizations in Europe where they have the machinery, the equipment, and the expertise to create the money. They make the money over there and then send it over here. A lot of companies that operate in the Caribbean, specifically let's say here in .
.., there's a much larger international presence in the sense that when you start, for example, a software company here in the DR, you're not really going to be transacting with individuals who are in the Dominican Republic. There will be some clients. For example, the software firm that I'm at right now, they're working on some banking software for banks ..
. within the country. But the reality is that a lot of developers are contracting people in the United States, in Canada, in Europe, wherever it is. So the way that the money system works here is that a lot of money is always coming in from the outside, either being transferred by wire transfer or a Western Union, MoneyGram-type systems. So let me give you a typical run down of a Western Union transaction here in particular. So the difference within a Western Union between let's say here in the Dominican Republic and the United States is that Western Unions in the United States, you would go to .
.., tell them where you want to send it, somebody picks it up. Well, here, there's actually delivery services for those remittances. There's delivery services here for just about anything. You can have lemons delivered to your house.
You can have all your groceries delivered to your house. So what I'm saying by that is that there are a lot of similarities between the way that you move money here, but people here have a much larger international mindsets because the country, the Dominican Republic, for example, it's only 10 million inhabitants. So we have 10 million people in a country. That's not enough to do sustainable business over and over again especially in something like software. Anything that has to do with technology these days, always outside the borders. So what I say with that is that there's a lot of little nuances to establishing a successful remittance for a digital currency systems here in the U.
S., or excuse me, here in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean abroad, because people already have the understanding that they're getting a lot of the money from the outside, and it's not about reintroducing money in a new way. It's about reintroducing a system of receiving money that is low cost to them. So that way people don't have to pay the 10%, 15% to go get money from Western Union or whatever it is. Okay. Is your guy's main demographic going to be consumers or are you guys targeting businesses that are accepting payments? Or just everything all across the board? I know you guys are the only company right now in the Caribbean.
So it seems that there are a lot of options. Yeah. So like I said the three main plays at the moment are the exchange, merchant services. So there are two, actually I didn't mention them. It's the exchange, merchant services. So traditional services like .
.., for example, where somebody here can accept the payments. And then the difference or the differentiator here is the remittance where rather than trying to focus on simply selling your coins and finding businesses to accept coins and creating this closed loop, you create a service that is actually in demand and then use the technology to create the solution. Okay. Why don't you tell us a little bit about some of the regulatory stuff you guys have got and had to go through, at least what you know about it, where the different governments in the Caribbean? I know there's different demographics at play.
There's different countries at play. So was it something that was just you guys went to one regulatory body? Talk a little bit about that with us if you could. So that's the extremely complex part and that's what ties in with what I said was what made it difficult for me to explain my role at the moment. So because the Caribbean is a large collection of a vast number of nations, we have to start approaching each government individually. You can run into a lot of government dignitaries at a conference at the U.N.
or some kind of monetary conference in Europe or whatever it is. But you have to approach each government individually. You have to establish a company in each country that you want to go to. Then you have to open up bank accounts in each country that you want to be in, and then you have to start mining, whether it be dignitaries, lawyers, anybody that has a connection to how the financial systems work. So the complexity here is similar to the complexities in the U.S.
In the U.S. you have 50 different countries, states, but the difference is that there's much more guidance. There's a lot less corruption. So the difficulty here is establishing companies in several different countries, opening up banks in several different countries, and having to deal with so many different governments. The regulatory issues that you're going to find, for example, in the Dominican Republic is that things are slow, extremely, extremely slow.
So for us to open up a company here, it's a 30-day process. In the U.S., I open up an LLC and I think, I've printed out the paperwork the night before online, and then the next morning, I was at the tax collector's office just paying it off. And I knew that all on my own. Here you're not going to really be able to make the advancements that you're looking for without approaching lawyers, without having the right political connections, and that's the reason that I'm here in the Dominican Republic.
My family is, I guess, probably all the generations are Dominican. And my dad and my mom, they immigrated over to Mexico first and that's where I was born. And then they moved to the U.S. My mom's Puerto Rican, so that gave me U.S.
citizenship. I was born in Mexico, so that gave me Mexican citizenship. My dad is Dominican, so that gave me Dominican citizenship. So the reason I mention that is because that is what's allowed me to come here to the Dominican Republic and exploit my connections to try to get us situated. The reason we need to get situated in the Dominican Republic is because, like I said, the Dominican Republic is the number one receiver of remittances in the Caribbean and Central America. Okay.
Out of curiosity, what corridors, and getting specific let's just talk about the United States, what cities, what states are most of the money coming into the DR? Do you have any stats on that? Would you know? No stats on that. I guess that would be something really interesting to start to look into. But we are aware that a large number of Hispanic populations are concentrated, especially Dominican populations are concentrated in New York City, so New York State ... as well as Miami, state of Florida.
And then you have other mixed Hispanic communities in California and Texas and the Midwest. But primarily, a lot of the Dominicans do have a tendency to go to New York City, and then that's when they'll end up having to send money home to their families here. guess one of the major issues that we're going to run into is inside regulation in New York State and that entire fiasco. Yeah. I was going to say, did you guys have a meeting or was there any response, update in regards to the Bitt License? And how do you guys feel about serving customers of New York now that Bitt License is in full effect? Any opinions on that? ..
. My main focus is simply the Dominican Republic and setting up the business relationships as well as business development here. What I can say is that the U.S., and being able to properly transfer money from the banking system into the Bitcoin system ..
., is something that was hard work. Because we understand that in that in order to create a remittance service, you have to approach the places where the money is actually and that being the U.S. All right. So are there any partners that you've been talking with in the States? All of Point Base or any other kind of smaller MSVs that are concentrated in Bitcoin and providing services that you guys could see yourselves maybe partnering with or opening up your API to for that cash-off service? So I can't speak to any of that, but what I can say about partners and the future of what we're trying to do with it is that we understand where or at least have an idea of where we think the blockchain is going.
So one of the very interesting things that Bitt is working on right now is that we're actually Colu's first ground clients, so we're working closely with the Colored Coins team which I'm actually the U.S. ambassador for Colored Coins Open Source Project, Colu being a private organization that just released a new protocol. I believe this will be the third or fourth. It'll be the fourth protocol that is under the Colored Coins name. And also the exchange is Omni Layer integrated.
So there's also that association with the Mastercoin or Omni team now. So what that says and that lets you use your own imagination to see where this might be going, but it's really about providing asset services as well as money services. And I think that's where a lot of the Bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem is going to go now. I think it's less about targeting the individual consumer and targeting large corporations that have a lot of things that they need to move around. And in the Caribbean, just like in the U.S.
, there's lots of banks that need to move assets and all sorts of property titles and anything that you can imagine a banking system does or a regulatory system, a regulated financial system does is something that goes on in the Caribbean just as much as it would in the U.S. So I say use your imagination ,because I think that five, let's just say two to five years from now, we're going to be seeing less focus on simply getting customers to buy Bitcoin and more about what organizations can do with transferring assets on the blockchain. Okay. So let's switch gears a little bit. Let's talk about Colored Coins a little bit because that's interesting.
We got some big news a couple of months ago with the NASDAQ, about a month ago, saying that that was the implementation they were using specifically to try to test some of their private stock markets or some, I guess, representing, I don't know. Can you talk about that since you're kind of in charge of the community in the U.S. for Colored Coins? Is there any specifics you can give us on the NASDAQ, even exactly what it is they're trying to do or are doing? All right. So this is actually a pretty great question because I've been dealing with the politics of this for ..
.. Essentially ColoredCoins.org is an open-source initiative where several different protocols are trying to ...
. So under Colored Coins, there is the Open Assets. There's the new Colu protocol, as well as two others that the names escape. So the NASDAQ deal relies on Open Assets, and then all these other organizations like Chain, CoinSpark, Coinprism, they've all been using different implementations of the protocols and until now there have been concerns with some of the older protocols -- so bloating on the Blockchain, unsecured rationale between issuing assets so anybody could reproduce your assets. So with regards to the NASDAQ deal, that deal is the property of a private organization that's using the Colored Coins initiative. There's a lot of internal bickering right now because the new Colu protocol was supposed to be the new standard.
But then they decided or realized that this is supposed to be an open-source community and that you weren't really supposed to try to push any one protocol onto the community. That doesn't really matter because at the end of the day, somebody has to be in charge of ColoredCoins.org. So I won't say anything too against what's going on right now. But essentially some of the older protocols are still part of Colored Coin's initiative and they're still there. But they're being pushed out by the new protocols and the new organizations are essentially taking a foothold of Colored Coins.
So, yeah, it seems that Chain is running with it more than anybody. They've got that NASDAQ deal. They're working with GIF. Doesn't it benefit all of the protocols that they're interoperable though and that the different markers and the way that the assets are marked could be interchanged? I'm assuming that will be the goal of ColoredCoins.org, or I guess having some kind of standardization. I guess if everybody .
.., would you see a concern there and a lack of there being one that a majority of people are using so in the future, the assets can all be recognized in the same protocol? I had this conversation today and it was really, it was a frustrating conversation for a couple reasons. Primarily because the individual that was expressing his concerns to me was pretty high up at one of these organizations and he's very close to the politicking that's going on. But at the end of my conversation, I kind of run into this wall where the issue with the different protocols is less about interoperability and it's more about who's getting the exposure. When Chain works on something that's using one of the Colored Coins protocols, that application of the Colored Coins protocol is going to be very, very specific.
So there's not that much of a likelihood that you need any kind of interoperability between what they're doing with GIF and what they're doing with NASDAQ. So there's no reason that any of those assets or products should be touching each other. So it's really just about exposure. Right now, it's more about who's getting the marketing, who's getting viewed, and it's less about, "Well, this protocol doesn't work. Or this protocol works with this." I think that because all of these organizations are really just private organizations trying to sit under an open source banner, it is very cool that the technology is open source, but what's going to happen is that you're going to continue to have organizations using these open source protocols to create strictly privatized solutions.
So the NASDAQ solution is going to be strictly privatized, the GIF solution is strictly privatized, and just about any other type of asset vehicle that you can think of doesn't necessarily need that public exposure where you can interoperate between them or anything like that. But the way it works anyways, all of these protocols have the way they function on the network and they all have their rulesets. So whether or not they're interoperable, I'm not really sure if that's the right phrase to use because the Bitcoin network is blind to the Color in many ways. So it's really about how the rule engines work, how the wallets work, and the rulesets that can be developed for this. So one of the interesting things that comes out of the new ruleset or new protocol that Colu released is that they've developed a rule tool that allows it to do a couple things like time validation on assets. Meaning you can set a certain type, a certain amount of time that an asset is going to be available.
And then it can be created. The asset can have a triggering mechanism that is timed that eventually sends it back to the issuer. So that lets you do a lot of interesting things. You can define fees. You can set minting addresses so that you can have specific addresses that are allowed to mint a certain type of coin. And also, they've tried to remove a lot of the bloat by creating a.
.. Some of the old protocols relied on centralized servers or private blockchains in order to actually move the ruleset around for a specific asset because we understand that there's only so much metadata they can be put into a single Bitcoin transaction. So now within the ruleset, you have something where a lot of the ruleset can be defined in a torrent, so that you can have the rules be decentralized in a torrent but still be accessible to the coin. The fear before was that you have a decentralized coin with a centralized ruleset so if somebody were to hack the ruleset server or if just those servers went out, you would lose a lot of the functionality. So it's more about decentralizing the ruleset now.
But once again, it doesn't really need to be an interoperability between these different technologies because everybody's trying to develop the technology and then figure out how to sell that to somebody. Yeah. So even though they're open source, it's going to be very difficult to see where these types of technologies are simply ... their own assets.
You're going to see people that have real assets issued -- banks, gift card providers, primarily banks. Yeah. I guess maybe that wasn't the right word. I was thinking more of like if there was one standard, then you could have the exchange of these assets. You could exchange a gift card for Facebook stock or you could have smart terminals that if we were all on one Colored Point protocol we could program all of these terminals to do smart routing. So if you wanted to go pay for lunch with your Facebook stock or with your gift card points from wherever, that's more of the vein I was going.
Opposed to what they're doing now and fragmenting and having to spend resources later on to get everybody re-standardized to have this vision and this future where assets can be exchanged, even e-liquid assets, all sorts of assets on the blockchain in an efficient way where the market could find equilibrium and things will work nice. Where I kind of see what you're explaining is like, "Well, Chain is running with one fork of it and somebody else is running with another fork." I guess maybe in the end, the best implementation will win out ultimately. So I guess that's a good thing. But I was kind of trying just to figure out what that means and I'm not as versed with Colored Coins as you are. I don't really know all of the protocols.
I am familiar with Open Transactions., the one that I follow the closest. But it's kind of more like that. Like, "Hey, if we have one set of Colored Coins that only three wallets recognize and then another set of Colored Coins that one wallet recognizes, why not have a standard and everybody's building on this standard and add features to it." I guess I was curious, I was like, "Hey, what's going to happen if everybody supports the project in its own way?" You touched the nerve of the actual situation that's going on right now. That was the goal.
Originally the goal was to release the new Colu protocol as the new standard. But because there are already other organizations who have worked on these other protocols -- Open Assets, Open Transactions -- it would have been disingenuous to the open-source community for one organization to completely push a new standard. So it's been left up to the hands of the developers, what they want to use, what they feel comfortable with. But the picture that you're painting, it's an interesting picture because it would be interesting to be able to pay for your coffee with shares of something. Right? But you've got to ask yourself, "Is that practical? Is that how people are going to want to function regardless?" So I can't really answer that question because it's less of a question and more of a scenario that you're painting. Even if you had everybody on the same standard, because there are rules and because there are different things that you want to be able to use the blockchain, so perhaps you don't want to necessarily issue some kind of asset.
Maybe you want to issue something like a key or a ticket to the movie or anything like that. There aren't necessarily reasons why I would try to pay for coffee in ... and there's really no reason that I would try to use stock to pay for something else. You might see decentralized asset exchanges where that might be made easier, so it's less about having one specific protocol and it's more about people using the tools that they have to create that perfect scenario that you're trying to paint.
That's my opinion. Sure. Let's open it up to some questions for the floor. ...
interest in this? ... Sure. It's kind of a circle back to one of the questions I asked earlier, but what is the main fiat and what's the history of currencies in the Caribbean? Yeah, is the Euro kind of the main thing they use? Is it a dollar? Is it some kind of representation of the dollar? We were kind of debating this earlier, talking about the Bahamian dollar and how that works and just dump it on us. The more the better.
All right. So the currency here in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican peso, and it's not pegged to any particular value. If you look up the exchange rate for the Dominican peso, it's essentially gone down in an exponential decline for the last 10 years. So you have a lot of nations with currencies that essentially have a very small transaction volume relative to larger currencies. And then you also have, for example, Cuba is one of the..
. It's kind of one of the targets for Bitt. And in Cuba, there is the Cuban peso that is in regular circulation. That's what anybody gets paid in. And then there's a convertible Cuban peso. Chabito .
... That's the one that- Excuse me? Chabito. So the convertible Cuban peso is pegged to a particular value. I'm not exactly sure what the value is at right now.
It's not a one-to-one with the U.S. dollar, but it is pegged. It's 87 cents. So if you give a dollar, you're getting 87 cents worth of chabito. So it's about like 13%.
Okay. So you have countries like Cuba that have more than one currency, people are getting paid relatively low amounts of money. And then you have countries like the Dominican Republic where they have their own peso but because of governmental corruption, because of lack of resources, because of lack of innovation, it's hard to see those currencies go back up. So the general feeling in the Caribbean is that you try to have some dollars saved up. You try to have some euros saved up. And that's if you're the kind of person that has the means to do that.
If not, you're the kind of person that will be saving your money as pesos. I'm not really sure that answers the historical question of money in the Caribbean, but if I had to give you a general consensus on what you might want to consider as the history of money in the Caribbean, it's that you have many different nations with many different currencies with low transaction volumes, and a lot of the time, they either have to peg the value to either the U.S. dollar, the Euro, or something more sustainable. If not you have a situation like the Dominican Republic where it's just a steady decline down. Okay.
Another question. What's the banking situation like over there? Do you have any numbers on the percentage of banked versus un-banked? Or is there a large un-banked population and is there different services that are kind of being pointed towards these people to provide them some functionality? Is that kind of circling back to Bitt and what you guys want to do? What's that like? So specifically here in the DR you do have a... The banks here are just like in the U.S.
in the sense that it's freely accessible, there's really no reason that you couldn't have a bank account other than you might not have a national ID for whatever reason. What I can say is that people here have to visit banks a lot more than you would in the U.S. Reason number one being that banks are your primary place, your go-to place to receive outside money. They provide a lot of remittance services. It's not just Western Union that you're competing with here.
It's not just Moneygram. It's the banks, because they have the inter-Caribbean connections. They have the connections to provide business owners with outside money. But one of the reasons you might go to a bank here is that you've gotta pay some tax. So when I was here, I came and I decided that I wanted to make sure I had my Dominican passport. And one of the services that the bank provides is you go there and you can pay for the tax that you need to apply to get your passport.
So all I'm saying with that is that access to banking here is really good. Banking is the number one business in the DR. Okay. Good point. Good point. Go ahead.
... Okay the question was, if you could put in any kind of order, the most popular payment methods? So between fiat and credit cards and any other ones that you can think of that are specific or popular in the Caribbean. This is definitely a fiat place. And that goes back to something that I was saying earlier where people are afraid to have so much cash on them because of the delinquency and the crime rates here.
But there is access to credit card services. There is access to debit card services. But your primary method of transaction is always, always, always fiat, at least here in the DR. I can speak to that because if you go to a super market here, for example, and rather than have a place where you yourself slide your debit card or your credit card they have the little terminal connected to the register and they kind of pull that over and then they slide it for you. And then sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. So people here are still on the fiat system but they're not afraid of moving towards digital money, and primarily because of safety concerns.
Any penetration on like the Telcos with mobile money? Cell phone minutes or top-ups being used as currency? Or anything weird or kind of different about the Caribbean that we might not know about? No. Not necessarily. A lot of the cell phone, I mean cell phone penetration is huge here. Everybody has a cell phone. Even if you're the most poor person in the world you probably will have a cell phone. There are mobile top up minutes and stuff like that.
But it's not ... so good. It's not fluid. There's really nothing that you can do with it other than really pay for your cell phone bill and check your balance and stuff like that.
Being at like a huge tourist destination spot are you guys having any kind of initiatives to get local businesses to start accepting? Obviously you're providing merchant processing solutions. But I would think that being, it's something that we often talk about here in Miami and South Florida in general, it's like we have people come from all over the world. And Bitcoins is a very international, global thing. Is that a big part of your guys' angle? Do you see maybe the Caribbean in the future being a hot bed for Bitcoiners all over the world to travel and spend their Bitcoin? Any comments on that? Yeah. I think that's a very good thought because that's one of the main reasons that we would want to promote something like a global currency and the global destination. But I can't really speak to what the specific marketing efforts are going to be and where we're going to put our emphasis to try to.
.. I can't say whether this is going to be about promoting merchant services primarily or promoting remittent services primarily because we're too early on in the approval process of trying to gather all the right pieces so that we can connect all the right ... and all the right people.
Right. Depending on who says yes and what island could mean what you guys do, basically. Exactly. Okay. Cool. Any other questions? .
.. Bitcoin community? Okay. The question is who has the most active Bitcoin community in the Caribbean? Maybe by island or country, however. Well, considering that it is based in Barbados and it's the only exchange operating in the Caribbean right now I'm going to say that the answer is going to be Barbados. .
.. So the question is kind of how Bitt is handling their development. Are you guys all based out of there? Like stock-wise? Or are your developers in the States or remote in other parts of the world? Or are you actually keeping the talent and trying to aggregate it into the Caribbean? So what I can say is that there is a development group or a development ...
in Barbados. And the CEO is actually a security expert. So a lot of the development is internalized but a lot of the projects that they're working on are partnerships between other organizations. So the two that I can speak of is the partnership with Coru and the partnership with Omni. I have a question. How is your guys relationship with Alpha Point been? Do you have anything to say about that? It seems like most of the exchanges around the world, or at least the bigger ones, are under platform.
Any thoughts on the centralization behind that and how has the service been for you guys? I can't really speak to too many of the details that you asked but I can say that they've been a really good partner and they've clearly provide a really good service. Okay. ....
Any other questions? Anybody? I do. What's the situation with money exchangers on the street? ... Okay. The question is kind of what do you know about the money exchangers on the street? Kind of like what is that infrastructure like in the Caribbean? Is there a lot of street exchangers kind of doing things outside of the channels? What do you know about that? I haven't really read into that here in the DR much.
I know that those types of money changers exist in places like Cuba, Haiti. I'd say most of the time we're just told not to trust street exchangers. But what I can say is that banking is so prominent here that it's hard for the street exchanger to really compete with the banking. That's all I'm going to say about this. Okay. So another question.
I'm sorry. Very nice. ... Okay.
Sorry about that. ... It's just security. So I'm of Cuban heritage and I'm kind of interested in whatever you can tell.
What is your guys' idea behind doing something with Cuba? Have you had any discussions with anybody in the Cuban government? Like kind of what's your play and what's the theory behind being able to provide some kind of product or service to Cuba? It's hard to say because I've also tried to do a little bit of research to see if I could assist on the Cuban end of things and I have contacts here in the DR that work closely with, for example, computer scientists in Cuba. You might not believe this but computer scientists in Cuba are extremely, extremely skilled, extremely well trained. The Cuban population is an extremely educated population. It's a population where a taxi driver might just be a rocket scientist kind of thing. So the idea is that as time goes on and as markets ..
. to globalize and things like the embargo between the United States and Cuba ends, you're going to start to see a lot more money flow into the country. The U.S. government has already eased. It used to be that if you were of Cuban descent you could send X amount of dollars to Cuba and then that changed to now you can send 2X or 5X, just giving a general example, of dollars to Cuba.
Then it became you don't have to be a Cuban citizen. You can send, I think it's like $8,000 a year. I don't like the numbers because I did the research the other day but I've forgotten what the exact numbers are. So what I'm saying by that is what we've seen in the last couple years is that Cuba is becoming more and more of an accessible market. But I have my concerns on Cuba simply because privatizing of businesses isn't really something that's going on there much. The government is extremely hard to deal with, and the general population doesn't really have access to the internet.
So people there, for example, have to buy time cards to buy internet time, and you might buy an hour's worth of internet. But it's going to take you like 15 minutes to open up Gmail or something like that. It's not a secured connection. If you're using Chrome or something like that, it's going to warn you that it's not a secure connection. So I think at the end of the day, and this is just a thought, like I mentioned earlier you're going to start to see more organizations using the blockchain of Bitcoin to provide services where the technology's underlined, but the consumer isn't really too concerned with what the technology is. So the play there is it's a huge country.
It's got a lot of money, a lot of people. It's got a lot of tourists going there, especially now that it's being opened up to more U.S. tourism. And because this is a Caribbean-based exchange, it wouldn't necessarily be fair or smart to overlook Cuba or overlook Haiti or overlook the smallest islands. Gotcha.
Just a little tidbit. Average remittance from Florida to Cuba is about $2 billion. Per year or per month? Yeah. So that's part of the reason that you would want to target Cuba. Yeah. It's something we talk about a lot but a lot of the same points that you just made we kind of throw around, as well.
Anybody else have any other questions? Okay. Thank you very much for talking with us. We appreciate it. Good luck on everything you guys are doing over there. But we're carrying on from Miami. If you guys ever need somebody to talk to, we're right next door so just pick up the phone.
Godspeed, everyone. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. . .
Hey, Doug, will ya say, "Thanks for watching and if you liked this video subscribe to the channel." Thanks for watching, party people. If you liked the video please subscribe. Follow Chris DeRose. He's a great Bitcoin expert. Thank you.
That works. Pretty Good. Very good.