One of these people is a software developer and Bitcoin enthusiast Jonathan Wheeler, a former bank employee who believes he can provide some relief to the people who are starving under one of the most oppressive regimes in the world.
In Venezuela, the strict legislation punishes the political opinions that stray away from those in power. The Venezuelan government has even banned technologies that citizens used to bypass the censorship.
They have even gone as far as to launch their own; official cryptocurrency called the petro, which they advertise as the salvation for the country’s economy.
In February 2018, Wheeler announced his plans to use Bitcoin to solve Venezuela’s rapid hyperinflation. He revealed this on the same day he left his position at Goldman Sachs – February 15, 2018. He left this well-paid job so he could focus on his mission of leveraging Bitcoin to solve Venezuela’s hyperinflation.
At the moment of Wheeler’s announcement, Venezuela’s fiat currency, the bolívar, was inflating at a rate of 6,000% annually. Some estimates show that the rate of inflation will reach 30,000-300,000% by the end of 2018.
Wheeler is now heading a team developing a mobile app called Azul, for which he hopes that by the end of the year will be able to draw millions in donations.
“To give it the greatest likelihood of success, it has to be done en masse. We’re trying to make this a large-scale collaborative mission to help people suffering from financial tyranny,” said Wheeler.
After leaving Goldman Sachs, Wheeler asked Morgan Crena to help him. As a result, they established a non-profit organization called the Pale Blue Foundation. The idea for the name came from a 1990 speech by Carl Sagan, in which he said:
“To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Several months later, the Wheeler’s team now counts 15 members, among which are some Venezuelan citizens. For this reason, Wheeler cannot provide any more details, as he needs to protect the safety of those citizens.
The Pale Blue Foundation is currently meeting with Bitcoin companies, trying to recruit them to help their cause. These companies include OpenBazaar and LocalBitcoins.
The team decided to focus on Bitcoin because they believe it is the most stable and most widely available virtual currency.
“We’re focused on Bitcoin because we think it’s the most viable solution with the most worldwide potential,” Wheeler explains.
“Bitcoin’s built like a tank,” Crena added.
Another advantage of Bitcoin is that it uses the lightning network, a “second layer” payment protocol technology expected to help the cryptocurrency scale by pushing transactions off-chain. It also enables instant transactions between participating nodes.
The technology is an essential part of the technical design for the Azul app that Wheeler’s team is currently developing.
The Pale Blue Foundation is also meeting with lightning developers, including those who are working on the development of the lightning wallet CoinClip and the startup ACINQ, which is implementing its own lightning implementation.