EspañolCalifornia Cantina in Santiago will become the first restaurant in Chile, and the first nightclub in all of Latin America, to accept bitcoins, according to their director of press and public relations, Sonia Galleguillos.
Officially launching on January 8, the restaurant will be a bitcoin “pioneer” for Latin America, said Galleguillos. She adds that the club has received significant interest on social media regarding the restaurant’s decision to accept the digital currency, in addition to Chilean pesos.
The restaurant will utilize an application developed by Coin4ce, the most prominent company for buying and selling bitcoins in Chile. The application will allow patrons to make purchases through their smartphones, by scanning QR codes generated by restaurant iPads that facilitate the process.
Adam Stradling, founder at Coin4ce.com — which he describes as a Chile-based bitcoin company supporting customers in Chile and Mexico — notes that the Bitcoin ecosystem in Latin America is currently lagging behind the United States. He adds that while there are now thousands of merchants accepting bitcoins in the United States, there are only a few in Chile.
Transaction confirmation delays are often a primary concern regarding the viability of bitcoin as a functional currency, due to the highly complex algorithms required to confirm transactions on the bitcoin network. According to material provided by Galleguillos, purchases at the restaurant should complete within 20 seconds, and will allow the restaurant to avoid typical credit card payment processing fees from firms such as Transbank.
Regarding bitcoin acceptance and infrastructure in Chile specifically, Stradling of Coin4ce.com says that “while on a smaller scale, the pockets of interest in Chile are certainly starting to mirror the excitement felt around bitcoin in the USA. Coin4ce has experienced this through an enormous increase in sales in the last few months and inquiries from people wanting to learn more about Bitcoins.”
In addition to California Cantina’s launch this week, Adam notes that, “Galt’s Gulch, [a planned libertarian community in Chile] has become a very bitcoin friendly community, and Coin4ce, Blockchain.info, and BTCTrip will be hosting a Bitcoin meetup on January 8 for anyone interested in learning more.”
California Cantina’s move coincides with interest in bitcoin that has grown in recent months, and the value of a single bitcoin peaked at US$1137 on November 29, 2013. The current market value of all bitcoins in circulation is nearly $12.3 billion, according to Block Chain.
EspañolAs we begin a new year in the United States, we find civil liberties, and in particular protections against unreasonable searches, seizures, and breaches of privacy, in a most precarious state. Undoubtedly, the story of the year in 2013 was the disclosure of dragnet domestic surveillance on the part of the National Security Agency — a program confirmed by the classified leaks provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. While the NSA's spying is indeed massive in scope, it is in truth only a relatively small part of the larger surveillance state apparatus. In fact, when it comes to suspicionless snooping and collection of our electronic data, the NSA is far from the only federal agency with their prying eyes in the game. Perhaps the most under-reported and least understood of these agencies is Customs and Border Protection, and the staggering authority they have been granted within the 100 mile radius of the border known as the "constitution-free zone." What's worse is that courts in the United States have continually ruled these sorts of searches to be legal, despite the public's growing knowledge and concern over electronic surveillance. Just last week, a US district judge in New York upheld a 2008 CBP policy update that extended searches at the border and "border equivalents" (i.e., airports and inland checkpoints) to include electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops. This decision by Judge Korman regarding data grabs near the border comes as federal courts continue to wrestle with the legality of the NSA's bulk data collection program. Interestingly, the legal rationale used by Judge Korman in ruling against the plaintiff, Pascal Abidor and the ACLU, is not unlike the arguments presented by NSA apologists. In short, they amount to "other countries do it too," "no one really believes they have an expectation of privacy anymore," and "you don't really have any legal standing to sue anyway." While the country tries to make up its mind as to whether the NSA should have the ability to conduct this level of domestic surveillance for the sake of "national security," the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol continue with policies that are, at minimum, as egregious in their disregard for privacy rights — and they do so largely unabated. Civil liberty advocate organizations such as the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are paying attention and seek change, but where is the public outrage and major media coverage comparable to the level of the NSA story? No, the domestic surveillance programs of DHS and CBP are not part of some clandestine operation. They were not unearthed within a trove of pilfered classified documents by a maverick whistleblower. They are, instead, stated public policies, gradually codified into law — a sacrifice of personal liberty long since consecrated unto the altar of the national security state. Many US Americans today howl at the thought of NSA agents remotely picking through their personal emails and text messages. Yet, many more still remain indifferent to the physical seizure of their cell phones and computers when they travel — even within the country — with the contents of their devices scanned, copied, and stored. If we find the NSA's suspicionless spying program to be outrageous and illegal, shouldn't the same standard apply to DHS and Customs? Conversely, if "anything goes" with regard to searches within 100 miles of the border, why does this principle not extend to the whole of the country or to what the NSA continues to do? The fact that these questions are at all difficult for the government or the public to answer — or that they are even questions to begin with — is a startling sign of the times.