Max Keiser, former American stockbroker, crypto investor and, since 2009, host of Russia Today’s (RT) Keiser Report program, comments on his perspectives on the country with the issuance of volcanic bonds and the implementation of bitcoin as legal tender. Likewise, he announces crypto-funded investment projects for financial startups made by national talent.
How did the idea of seeking Salvadoran nationality arise?
As soon as Bitcoin was approved as legal tender, I decided that I should be a Salvadoran citizen. Of course, I want to be a citizen where bitcoin is legal tender. It is part of my path and makes perfect sense to me.
El Salvador is a fantastic country; it’s beautiful, and the people are great. The more time I spend here, the more I feel at home. My Spanish is not good, but I am learning.
What’s your opinion on President Nayib Bukele’s decision to promote bitcoin as legal tender and the announcement of Bitcoin City?
I was at the event when Bitcoin City was announced. President Bukele has an Alexandrian vision for it. He will replicate this vision through the crypto city that will transform Central America and the entire world.
From my point of view, this is a great vision since it will result in a city that is free of taxes and will be a successful project.
When I see President Bukele, other great projects and leaders come to mind. Steve Jobs, for example, who created the smartphone and changed the world. There was nothing new in this smartphone; it just put existing technology in a new way. Likewise, bitcoin is putting financial technology on a new path and revolutionizing the world.
And then we have President Bukele who understood that Bitcoin was a way to restart the country and solve problems. He has a vision, and people like me respect that vision.
In recent days, several bitcoiners have pointed out that El Salvador has become the crypto investment hub in Latin America. What do you think about it?
El Salvador could become a bitcoin hub for Central and Latin America. These laws that have been approved can cause other countries to relate to volcanic bonds or bitcoin bonds. El Salvador could become the equivalent of the City of London in Central America.
Before Brexit, the city of London was one of the three largest financial centers in the world, and they held a large part of the European bonds, with which they made big deals in the Forex market. El Salvador could be a ‘hub’, a financial center in Latin America.
In Central America, combining the populations of the five countries, we could have 65 million people, and the idea is to look for a market that in the next ten years potentially has three quarters of a trillion dollars, so bitcoin is definitely a great option.
What has been your perception of the interest of citizens in the use of bitcoin platforms?
The interest of Salvadoran citizens in bitcoin has grown because most Salvadorans have their own bank accounts on their phones. People who were not banked, which was 70% or more, now have access to financial services by using Chivo or other wallets.
Also, transaction fees have been eliminated. The Salvadoran people are delighted to do business without having to pay commissions, thanks to the Lightning Network.
On the other hand, people have the opportunity to save their money and watch it grow, something that no other fiat currency in the world can do. And now they can build businesses with this money.
El Salvador is the first country in the world in Google searches related to bitcoin, the second is Nigeria. That should tell you something about what’s going on in the world.
The people in the Salvadoran government are very visionary, and they are an excellent team.
In his presentation at Labitconf, he assured that Salvadorans are experiencing more financial freedom than any American. What does that approach represent?
Everyone has seen what has happened in America and Canada with their payment platforms like GoFundMe being tracked; Paypal has a sensor, Wikileaks has a sensor, and so does Mastercad. In America, you have to obey the financial detectors, otherwise they censor you, confiscate you, or throw you away, and those dollars are spent by the United States government on weapons.
In El Salvador, it is completely different. President Bukele said that he wanted everyone in this country to have financial freedom. He said: I want everyone to have access to unconfiscatable finance, money that is decentralized like Bitcoin. It is completely the opposite.
The American dream no longer exists in America. The United States is the epicenter of political corruption. Financial trackers are making the lives of Americans miserable; even life expectancies are dropping. Not here in El Salvador. People in El Salvador are using their money in their lives and in their culture with an unconfiscatable currency like bitcoin.
You recently wrote that El Salvador could have a Bitcoin Wall Street. What does that statement mean?
President Bukele made bitcoin legal tender. This opens up intriguing possibilities, given that the Salvadoran Congress is attempting to promote new financial laws that will be framed in the context of the bitcoin revolution.
This would be the first time in hundreds of years that we have had new securities laws. In the United States, the last securities laws were between 1933 and 1934, which meant great repairs in the value system, after the Great Depression.
Bitcoin is new and has been made legal tender, and new stock market laws are planned for Bitcoin specifically. In my opinion, this is really exciting as it opens up a lot of opportunities.
So the idea that El Salvador could become Bitcoin’s Wall Street is something we should consider, because being a country with bitcoin as legal tender and with stock market laws in this regard, it has the potential to attract huge amounts of global capital to here.
Do you think that El Salvador could pay its foreign debt with bitcoin?
I believe that El Salvador will be in a position to pay off all of its debt with the new volcanic bonds. This is something that will free up your finances in ways that are spectacular. And that will bring more capital and more jobs, since it is a cycle.
All the elements are here to make an incredible story of economic growth. We can’t say exactly when it will be done, but we can say that it is gaining a lot of momentum. In other economies, like the United States and the United Kingdom, they are losing momentum and it is going outside of these countries. El Salvador, in Central America, is feeling that force.
What projects do you have in mind to develop this year in the country?
The first project will be the volcano bonds. This is a huge innovation in finance, and I’m working with Samsom Mow at Blockstream and with Bank to the Future, assisting whoever I can and helping with that project. The bond has been designed for 10 years with an interest rate of 6.5%. A part of the bond will be invested in bitcoin and another part in infrastructure. And this is generating great interest around the world. This is the first big project.
This could be expanded up to $20 billion, which would allow the Salvadoran economy to be fully recapitalized and even serve to pay off all of its debt and become debt-free. That is very exciting.
My friends from Bank to the Future are setting up here in El Salvador and are in contact with recruiting Salvadoran staff, initially at least 50 people, which will be investment banking jobs.
The idea is to work with these platforms that allow almost anyone to create projects and generate investments. That’s very interesting to me, helping startups get funding easily and building these companies.
There will be a new generation of companies starting up in El Salvador, and I will be working to try and increase their funding. We will probably create a fund that will go to these companies. That is my vision for a year or a little more than a year.
We will start to see new companies looking for angel capital. My goal is to help these companies so that they can obtain angel capital. It is to create an investment ecosystem that everyone can understand.
With all the economic projects of the Salvadoran government, how do you see El Salvador in five years?
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow a lot. If last year it reached 10%, it will be much higher in the coming years; the money coming in from tourism will be much more. Last year $700 million was obtained, and $1.4 billion could be expected, that is, 50% more. I see that every economic sector in El Salvador will grow and the debt will be reduced. On the other hand, jobs will grow incredibly with bitcoin businesses.
Another area that will be promoted will be education. I was at the event at which President Bukele inaugurated a new library, and that is a commitment to education. He understands that the current generation, the younger generation, will live to a bitcoin standard, and they will need the best education. In 10 years, education standards will grow rapidly, and that will drive the economy.
Russia and other countries have shown interest in regulating bitcoin as well as El Salvador. Some of them were previously against it. Why do you think they have changed their minds?
It is impossible not to pay attention to bitcoin. India was against bitcoin, now they want to make it legal; Thailand was rejecting it and now they see it favourably; Russia was against it and now it is for it. It is impossible not to adopt bitcoin, and that is something that nations need to understand. Now many countries are seeing how they can participate. In African countries, bitcoin was already there and it has transformed the entire economy of those places.
All these countries are developing plans for bitcoin, and they have realized that they cannot ignore it. So now they must join the bitcoin revolution and are trying to figure out the best way to do it.
El Salvador is the first. President Bukele is a visionary. I think he is like Steve Jobs. I remember that one of the first Apple advertisements said «Think differently» and that is what Bukele has done.
«Einstein, Martin Luther King, and other great figures were visionaries. If a recount were done today, President Bukele would be on that list. Bukele is a visionary. He thinks differently and is transforming this country and possibly the world» – Max Keiser.
You can read the Spanish version of the interview here.