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Interview: Bitlem Opens the First Physical Bitcoin Exchange in Mexico

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM
Francisco Memoria
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM

Mexican company Bitlem recently announced through a press release the launch of Mexico’s first physical bitcoin exchange, located one street away from the Mexican Stock Exchange. In it, customers will be able to buy and sell bitcoin, as well as 10 other cryptocurrencies, using cash and bank transfers.

Being the first exchange in Mexico with a physical location open to the public gives it historical significance, and allows it to introduce bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology to the Mexican market.

Bitlem is currently working on launching its online exchange platform, Bitlem.com, over the next few weeks in order to allow users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies online as well. Once its launched, users will be able to deposit funds using over 20,000 stores located throughout Mexico, effectively bringing bitcoin to the masses.

The company’s store is located in Copenhague 6. Col. Juárez. Delegación Cuauhtémoc.Ciudad de México, and in it customers will be able to buy cryptocurrencies with only 100 Mexican pesos (~$5.5 USD).

Bitlem added that it will work on expanding and opening more branches throughout the country, and that it will adapt its operations and processes according to regulatory framework that will be provided in the future.

Given the significance of Bitlem’s physical bitcoin exchange in Mexico, CCN.com spoke to the company’s general director, Jorge Chavez Martinez, about the company:

CCN.com: What motivated you to open Bitlem?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “What the majority of new people to the Bitcoin ecosystem want are security, trust and customer support. This is why we decided that it was important to launch our company with an office and telephone lines open to the public. This way, our clients come to our office or calls us to ask questions or to find help to solve their doubts and problems; and above all, buy and sell Bitcoins with the confidence that they will always have a human face willing to help them. In order for Bitcoin to reach a level of trust and usability by the general population, companies will require to approach the client in a physical and face-to-face manner, in order to solve doubts, provide that level of trust that the clients seek, and to make the new technologies accessible to all.

It is necessary to bring the new financial technologies from the digital space to the physical world, to the day to day life of the potential client who does not yet know them, which still represents the majority of the population in the world. Launching the first Bitcoin Exchange with a physical presence in Mexico represents a challenge but also a great opportunity to get closer to all this population that still distrust or does not understand Bitcoin, and thus establish ourselves as leaders in digital assets in Mexico.”

CCN.com: What are your thoughts on Mexico’s cryptocurrency scene?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “The cryptocurrency scene in Mexico is very young but with a lot of growth, especially because of the high demand of remittances, and the majority of the population being unbanked and unable to participate in the new internet economy. Bitcoin has been an easy way to facilitate internet payments for all the unbanked population, and a cheaper and cost efficient way to transfer money to Mexico.”

CCN.com: Donald Trump’s presidency reportedly threatens Mexican remittances, to the point analysts told the press it was a national emergency. Do you believe bitcoin will be the solution?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “Completely shutting down or even trying to heavily tax remittances would be a mistake that would limit people’s freedom and ability to use their hard earned money. This would only cause all the money to flow to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and abandon classic money transferring methods, as it would be extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to limit Bitcoin.”

CCN.com: If so, might Mexico become one of bitcoin’s biggest markets?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “Without a doubt a situation like this would make Mexico one of the biggest Bitcoin markets in the world as we are currently the fourth country that receives more remittances in the world, with a total amount near 28.542 billion dollars per year. All of this money would start to move to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that would be impossible to stop. Cryptocurrencies will be the number one method to transfer money between countries in the future, and a situation like this would only speed up the process.”

CCN.com: What are your thoughts on the SegWit2x hard fork?
Jorge Chavez Martinez:” We believe it is important to analyse what happens with the SegWit2x hard fork and see what the consensus will be. The most important thing to us is to protect our clients and their funds. We are still analysing if we will have to credit funds on each bitcoin blockchain or if Segwit will be adopted as the main consensus and continue to be called “Bitcoin”. If the fork is not accepted by the majority of nodes and companies, we probably have to list it as an altcoin and credit funds on both chains. For now, our policy is to wait and see, and we will provide a more detailed plan on how we will adopt each blockchain.”

CCN.com: What plans does the company have for the upcoming future?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “We have plants to expand and open more branches in the largest cities in Mexico and where Bitcoin is needed the most. We plan to implement a franchising model so we can expand quicker and reach more cities in our country.”

CCN.com: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Jorge Chavez Martinez: “We are about to launch our online cryptocurrency exchange (bitlem.com ) to extend our service to all of Mexico, so it is not required for our clients to come to our branch, and instead buy and sell Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, from our platform. People will be able to deposit from more than 20,000 convenience stores, deposit cash in our branch, or make bank transfers to fund their accounts, thus making Bitcoin easily accessible to everyone.”