The businessman Baldomero Falcones, new signing of Bit2Me.
Baldomero Falcones has not yet invested savings in cryptocurrencies. He says he is learning about it, but seems confident in the growth of the sector as much as that tomorrow the sun will rise. The 75-year-old Mallorcan businessman has been part of the Spanish economic elite for decades from positions such as CEO of the construction company FCC or CEO of Banco Santander. And he became world president of the credit card giant Mastercard for four years. His next adventure breaks with that more or less traditional trajectory: the Spanish cryptocurrency platform Bit2Me has hired him as an external advisor to channel those years of experience and a well-stocked agenda of contacts towards the challenge of starting his segment at the end of the year. of debit cards.
The goal is for any of your customers to be able to pay with cryptocurrencies at the supermarket or at the corner bar using a Mastercard or even withdraw money at the ATM. Falcones, who also sits on several large corporate boards, is already spreading the gospel of his new home. “Cryptocurrencies are a greater revolution than credit cards,” he assures by phone from his vacation retreat in Sotogrande (Cádiz).
In a world like that of cryptocurrencies, usually associated with young people eager to turn traditional finance upside down and snatch the patrimony of the issuance of money from central banks, the profile of Falcones is not common. However, the regulatory difficulties faced by this type of firm, together with a certain mistrust about its use, mean that contracts like this can serve to gain legitimacy and open doors. “Baldomero will help us connect Bit2Me with the more traditional financial system. Mainly we have to exponentially bring the cards of a lifetime to the crypto world ”, explains Leif Ferreira, founder and CEO of Bit2Me.
The firm will launch on September 6 an ICO (Initial Coin Offering), the equivalent in the universe of cryptocurrencies to stock IPOs. After capturing 2.5 million euros from private investors in a pre-financing round, Bit2Me’s objective when going to the market is to obtain more resources by distributing its own cryptocurrency, in which they claim will be the largest operation of this type ever held in Spain .
The initiative comes at a sweet time for cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin hovering around $ 50,000, not far from its all-time highs. But the reluctance of financial regulators over these types of assets has not disappeared. The Bank of Spain and the CNMV warned in February of the “high risk” of cryptocurrencies due to their complexity, high volatility, and lack of transparency. Falcones admits the criticism, but believes that these problems will be corrected over time. “That warning seems correct to me, it is what they have to do, but we are going to go to a more transparent and more regulated market. Cryptocurrencies have a huge advantage: you have traceability, you know where the investment comes from, and it will not always be so unstable, “he says.
Financial entities have a clear competitor in cryptocurrencies. If these were to prosper, your business model could be affected, since no intermediaries would be needed to make transfers, purchases or sales. Falcones believes that they will join the new wave so as not to be displaced. “From what I have been able to speak with banking people, traditional entities are already investing in the cryptocurrency sector. Commercial and investment banks know that they have to move, as they have done at other times, ”he says.
In its attempt to stand out in the still incipient Spanish cryptocurrency ecosystem, Bit2Me has not hesitated to resort to coups. The morning of February 16, Madrid woke up with hundreds of posters distributed by some of its most emblematic places. Its main motto: “The revolution has just begun. Welcome to bitcoin ”, part of an advertising campaign to attract customers, was seen next to enclaves of the capital such as the Bank of Spain, the five towers of the financial district or the Paseo del Prado. Ferreira explains that the idea was “to land the world of cryptocurrencies at street level, to visually materialize that they are among us.”
Baldomero Falcones defends that there is always a certain resistance to an innovation when it appears, but then it is diluted if it works. “When the credit card was introduced, people said ‘wow, pay with a plastic’. Then contactless payment was introduced, and today I am seeing even minimal amounts paying by card. My children never carry money in their pockets. Clearly with cryptocurrencies it will be the same: there is an impressive acceptance as an investment and there will be as a means of payment, “he predicts.