Things are not looking good for Portugal. The country suffers from a massive economic crisis that has left the country with massive debts, a high unemployment rate and very troubling future prospects. While the government tries to find your every day solutions to get the country out of the crisis, four regular Portuguese guys saw an opportunity and turned to cryptocurrencies in an attempt overhaul the state of the country and created the CryptoEscudo coin - Portugal's first cryptocurrency.
Apolo and his three associates, tech specialists, created CryptoEscudo with a passion for the cryptocurrency universe and the knowledge to bring it to life. With backgrounds in programming, computer engineering and web design, they set themselves the goal of creating a cryptocurrency that the people of Portugal could use towards creating a more stable economic future of the country.
We had a chat with them about their goals, how they plan to reach them and also why they believe that a cryptocurrency could be the saviour of the economy in the struggling country.
How it Started
For two of the founders of CryptoEscudo, also known as CESC, it started back in 2011 when they read about the Bitcoin on a tech forum and began mining the popular cryptocurrency. They saw it as a good way to make some money and found the concept of the Bitcoin interesting and began mining intensely.
"We turned off the heating in our office space and decided that the heating from the mining rigs was more than enough for us," Apolo explained.
It was not until 2014, when Apolo and his partner saw the launch of Auroracoin, a coin created for the people of Iceland, that they began thinking about creating their own cryptocurrency, which would be faced towards Portugal. They liked what they saw with the Auroracoin, but believed that there were some flaws overall in the coin, which they wanted to change before launching CESC.
"We saw Auroracoin and saw it as a great innovative idea. However we wanted to use a name that people would understand the meaning of, which led to the name Escudo, as that’s our currency's name before we got the Euro. Secondly we saw it as an opportunity to pay the public debt that our country had gathered up over the years".
Paying off the entire public debt of Portugal will amount to around $265 million, which seems like a very difficult goal to reach, even if the value of the coin should go through the roof.
"There will be a total of 1 billion coins going into circulation when the mining is done. Out of these coins we have premined a total of 45%, equalling to 450 million coins. In total 22% of the total coins will be saved as a ‘debt treasure’, 22.5% will be distributed to the Portuguese citizens and 0.5% will go towards promoting the coin,” Apolo said when we asked how they plan on reaching a total value of $265 million to pay off the debt of Portugal.
Saving a total of 220 million CESC for national debts could work if the value of CESC will increase significantly over the years, but what will CESC do in order to ensure that the value of a CESC will increase enough to cover any cost?
"When you read about experts believing that the Bitcoin might reach levels of €100,000 per coin in the next 10-20 years, why wouldn’t it be possible to get CESC to a value of €1,000? If we promote it correctly and educate the people of Portugal to understand the purpose of CESC it should be more than possible."
Naturally there will be a number of unclaimed coins that should have gone towards Portuguese citizens, either because they are not aware of the cryptocurrency existing or simply because they don't believe in it.
"If all coins are not assigned to Portuguese citizens over the next 25 years, we will put the remaining coins into the debt treasure, allowing us to pay off the debt even quicker,” Apolo said about what would happen with the coins that go unclaimed in the future.
Local and International Reactions
Creating a local cryptocurrency doesn't necessarily mean that it will only get local response, as the cryptocurrency community is a relatively small world where most are aware of all coins introduced into the industry. We asked Apolo how people have reacted to the launch of CryptoEscudo.
"To be honest we had mixed reactions locally. The Bitcoin community of Portugal saw CESC as a threat to the value of the Bitcoin and didn't like the idea of a local cryptocurrency, while we have had nothing but positive responses from people not that familiar with cryptocurrencies in general."
"We have started to get some media attention here in Portugal, which will benefit our branding tremendously, as well as spread the knowledge of CESC to a bigger part of the Portuguese citizens," Apolo explained.
The community however reacted overall positively towards the coin, despite the large premine. The reason for that is due to the overall plan that the team behind CESC had laid out from the beginning, ensuring that nothing was hidden from the public. The team also believes that the coin is interesting for people outside Portugal, due to their relationship with Brazil and multiple African countries.
Apolo admitted that public relations and marketing was not a big strength of their team, but he hopes that they will be able to improve this as time goes by. The CESC team has hired a professional team to help them be able to promote CESC and educate the general public about their goals with the coin and how it could benefit not only them, but also the financial system in Portugal long-term.
Another important way to spread out CESC to new users is through usability, which can be accomplished by having different services that coin holders can use their coins for. Apolo explained that they are planning to integrate a few services in the upcoming months, which hopefully would increase the interest for CESC.
"We are planning to create the usual internet services such as web hosting, purchasing domains and so on, but we are also looking to create an automated payment system so merchants can integrate CESC as a payment method. Furthermore we are looking into creating an Android wallet for coin holders, making it easy to pay, transfer and receive CESC on the go."
The funding for these projects will come out of the CESC teams own pockets, as they will be using their Bitcoin mining profits to take CESC to the next level. Apolo explained that they are far from rich from the mining, but that they have some profits that they are willing to put into the project to make it succeed.
For them it is not about getting the coin value going through the roof from the start, but about creating a cryptocurrency that has a purpose and can help shape the future of Portugal, even if it will take up to 25 years to reach the goal they have in mind.
Short and Long Term Goals for CryptoEscudo
It is important for any cryptocurrency to have some clear goals established, in order to have something to work towards reaching. CESC is no different and have some clear goals to reach, which will help Portugal economically over the next many years.
"We have three short term goals that we want to reach this year. The first goal is get more local support, which will help us with the mining and promotion. The second goal is to get some international attention, which will provide better visibility towards CESC and lastly we are working towards finding investors that are willing to fund some larger projects that we have in mind."
Apolo told us that some friends suggested finding a famous person to promote the coin in Portugal, which is not a bad idea, but it is difficult to find anyone interested. The ideal candidate is of course Ronaldo, but the chances of him promoting a cryptocurrency are probably non-existing.
Long term goals for the CESC team includes reaching a value that can either pay out the entire national debt or at least a significant part of it as well as boost the local economy through integrating CESC as a payment method and thus decrease the payment fees that local merchants are paying.
The most important goal for Apolo and his team is however "That CESC is easy to understand and that everything is clear. We don't want to be yet another country coin who disappears after a while, we want to be used in Portugal and we believe that we can make a difference".
It will be interesting to see if CESC will be successful in reaching its goals. If so, it provides a unique opportunity for other troubled countries to get rid of some of their growing national debts and perhaps change their course to a more beneficial financial future.