Pablo Coirolo, now also a member of æternity, was the first tenant in the famous House of Blockchain in Liechtenstein.
The Uruguayan has many years of experience as a CEO for the companies Debicoin Technologies, Ficus Capital Pero, Telefonica Data Uruguay, and more. Together with his brother in January 2018, he founded the company Light47 – a blockchain advisories services company for blockchain companies wishing to establish themselves in Liechtenstein.
In the interview, Pablo explains how and why they decided to move to Liechtenstein and what made him fall in love with the small country.
Ramona: Hi Pablo, thanks for having me here at the house of blockchain.
Pablo: Thank you, Ramona, for inviting me to this interview.
Ramona: So, for a start, can you tell me about yourself and what have you done so far?
Pablo: Well I come from the telecommunications industry. I was CEO of Telefónica, the Spanish Tell-Co Company in Uruguay. And I was in the first wave of the internet, so that was in the early nineties. And then, after the communications, I went to M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, and in different parts of Latin America, in Uruguay, Argentina and Peru. In Peru I worked with Nestle for five years. We had a company that was Ficus Capital Peru and we helped them with different M&A projects and the big data. Then I moved on to Germany and that’s where, in 2014, I heard about the big coin and the blockchain space.
Ramona: So, you were involved quite early on?
Pablo: Yes, in 2014. Since I had passed already the internet revolution, I immediately saw the potential of this. And how I got to Liechtenstein? I was invited to participate in an ICO project that was looking for jurisdictions. And my responsibility was to look for jurisdictions. I looked everywhere: Hong Kong, as I live in Zug, Zug as well, also South Korea and Singapore. I then met Marion and Yani (Aeternity) one night through a common friend and they told me, they were based in Liechtenstein. And I was like, Liechtenstein? Where?
Ramona: Yes, what is it? 😉
Pablo: And they told me about this very friendly country with open minded regulators and that they were really trying to become a crypto-friendly country. I then looked and looked but could not find anybody that could tell me who the blockchain lawyers were and how I could start. And finally, I met Thomas Nägele. And we did one of our first workshops here in Liechtenstein with a team.
Ramona: You met the whole service provider package in one day?
Pablo: Yes, we finished with Mauro (Bank Frick), left that meeting and we all looked at each other and said “there’s no need to go to Zug. This is definitely the (best) jurisdiction!”. And this is how I arrived. And after that project I decided to open an advisory services company and help other companies, that wanted to do the same thing that we had done, in Liechtenstein. This year we received the authorisation to launch our own exchange. So, we were launching Light47 exchange. This is a different type of exchange – we are a corporate exchange; we only work with companies and businesses. We are not an exchange that deals with individuals. We are really focused on helping companies and corporations that want to get into this new blockchain, STO, and to help them and guide them through this process.
Ramona: So even with the exchange now, you are still advising?
Pablo: Yes, we have two branches, one is the exchange and working with me is my brother. He has worked 20 years in Wallstreet and lives in New York. Right now, he is working with Deutsche Bank. He is the one who is in charge with the exchange. Because many of our clients come from the United States and there is a lot to do in terms of the corporate world. And I am focused more on the advising services part of the company.
Ramona: You sound like you’re a good team together!
Pablo: Yes, we are a very good team. We’ve had different evolutions. He’s lived in the States almost all his life. I’ve lived a little bit all over Latin America, Europe and also in the United States. I think what’s really interesting, is that he brings in the Wallstreet aspect and 20 years of experience in the Wallstreet. And I bring the corporate experience and the company. So, this is where we try to match and are trying new ways to finance operations, new ventures and innovation with the crypto and the blockchain aspects. We have a very good mix and have a very extensive network within the corporate and in the financial sector.
Ramona: How did you come up with the Name Light47? You once told me a really nice story about it.
Pablo: When I come up with a name, I like to do a little bit of research. There was a book in Ruggell in the hotel and it was a children’s book about the history of Liechtenstein. And it talked about Liechtenstein, the light in the rock. There, I came up with light for Liechtenstein. And then I’m a sailor, I really like to know where I am, and Liechtenstein is on the 47th parallel. So that’s how Light47 came to be. Because Liechtenstein is a light in the rock, and we are on the 47th parallel.
Ramona: Such a great idea! Cause it’s always so difficult to find a name for a company. Very creative.
Pablo: Yes, we really fell in love with Liechtenstein. That’s why for the past 2 years we have worked here, we tried to promote Liechtenstein. I became part of the Crypto Country Association in Liechtenstein, for which I am an ambassador and am trying to cross bridges between Liechtenstein and Latin America, and other countries.
Ramona: You must be travelling a lot+
Pablo: Yes, last year was really crazy. This year I try to travel less and be more time here in Liechtenstein.
Ramona: To be in the lovely country of Liechtenstein and enjoy all the mountains?
Pablo: Yes, it is really incredible. I’m a paraglider and last year I met some of the members from the paragliding association of Liechtenstein. So, this year in spring, I am waiting to launch from the new site they open this year.
Ramona: So, then I can look up and say Hey to you?
Pablo: Yes! There’s a really funny story in Peru. I flew a lot right on the coast and my family would come to the shopping centre. I then would say: Hey look up, I am here! So that’s awesome. Maybe I can land right here outside the office.
Ramona: Yes, you’d have enough space here! You have also founded a new project called Crypto Bay Montevideo. What’s that about?
Pablo: I always like to analyse the history of the country. And when we were analysing the Pros and Cons of each jurisdiction, one of the issues that Switzerland and Liechtenstein have, are the issues of immigration and the issues of Visa’s. What we were thinking is to scale this up and with the new Blockchain Act attract companies coming to Liechtenstein, this was going to become an issue for a non-EU citizen. I started thinking how we could create a solution where the companies are incubated and do their development somewhere else and they do their capital raise and their financial aspect in Liechtenstein. We started thinking about how to do this. And then I was invited to Uruguay to speak at the first blockchain conference in Uruguay. There I worked with many people from the government that I knew from my time at Telefónica. It’s very similar to Liechtenstein. It’s also a very small country in Latin America. Although, it’s three times the size of Switzerland and it has a third of the population, but in Latin America, it is one of the smallest countries.
Ramona: And compared to Liechtenstein?
Pablo: I think Liechtenstein is about 160m2, the city of Montevideo is 230m2. Just to give you an idea.
Ramona: Bit of a difference!
Pablo: Yes, bit of a difference. And they have 1 and a half million people. But basically, what I saw there, is that Uruguay is a very developed country with a developed industry. I said, maybe we can create a bridge between Liechtenstein and Uruguay, where companies, that want to do blockchain projects are incubated in Uruguay, they have there development there. And then, they go to Liechtenstein to do their capital raise. We created Cryptobay Montevideo, which is a movement to develop blockchain solutions in Uruguay. We’ve already brought the first Liechtenstein company to Uruguay, which is Aeternity. We went with them to see the possibilities of establishing themselves in Uruguay. Because they are expanding into Africa, Asia, and now the next step is Latin America. We are helping them in “How to establish them” and “How can we create this bridge”. And the next step would be to incubate those companies in Uruguay that come up with really good ideas, really good projects and then get them here to Liechtenstein to do the financing aspect.
Ramona: So, you are combining the best aspects of both countries?
Pablo: That is the intention. And I think that’s how you find real solutions for scalability. Because in blockchain you have always the problem of how do you scale this? So basically, this is a solution of how we can scale in having numbers of companies that are really substantial. And not to transforming Liechtenstein into a peel box, sort of a country. Because I think that’s in the interest of Liechtenstein. But yes, going along with the issues that are currently in process. I think that we are launching now the Blockchain Act in Liechtenstein. That makes it able for companies to establish themselves here. There’s a clear legal framework. I think I can say, that all over the world, it is one of the most advanced legislations, forward thinking, that I think the European Union should adopt, the way that Liechtenstein is approaching this.
Ramona: Well, there have been some talks about that, right?
Pablo: Yes. And I think it makes a lot of sense, because what has come up with the Blockchain Act is the next evolution into a token economy. And that’s where we need to help companies understand on how to adapt into the token economy, the legal framework, but also the business aspect of how they do business. And I think that there is going to be a lot of work for companies in Liechtenstein to help these companies do the transition.
Ramona: You are also working with schools?
Pablo: The first aspect is always education. That is why we are working with two universities. One university is in Montevideo and the other is a public university with all the interior of Uruguay. We do our meetups with them; we see if we can train some of their professors to start dictating blockchain courses. The idea is, you need to develop the whole ecosystem, which is education, business and developers. So, you need to find developers that are creative and understand the blockchain technology. We also started working with the government. When I spoke with the president of the central bank of Uruguay – I knew him from when I was working in Telefónica – I spoke to him, and he was not very interested into the crypto aspects, but very interested in the government, in developing blockchain solutions. What we started working with them is starting to define different proof of concepts that companies, that are based in Liechtenstein, can apply to be able to develop in Uruguay. And I think that’s going to be very productive. And I think at the stage we are right now needs companies that work with proof of concepts. And really get it out there, in order to have a mass adoption.
Ramona: Which proof of concepts did you decide on then?
Pablo: Well, one of the things that they are interested in, is that the Uruguayan Government is part of the D7. The D7 are the most digitised nations in the world. In Uruguay, 50% of every household in Uruguay is connected with fibre optic cable. So, it has the highest download speed of all in Latin America. It also has a programme where every child that goes to school has a laptop. There’s close to 300,000 children that have laptops today. And the whole curriculum is online, and they have in every public square and in every school in Uruguay free internet access. What we’re trying to do is do all these POCs in all of these aspects that the government is doing in terms of digitalisation. For example, Uruguay has digitised the whole meat production, from when the calf is born until it is slaughtered. The whole chain is already digitised. The cow has a tag and that tag is registered in each step of its life. Every time a veterinarian has to give an injection, they have to register what jab they gave to what cow. This makes sure, that the meat is free of hormones and it is really free-range meat. They are very interested in all the production until it gets to the slaughterhouse. But the problem is that then, the cow becomes a number of different pieces of meat. And there you lose the traceability. So blockchain can be used to fulfil the traceability down to when you go to the supermarket and you buy, and you can scan and understand the whole process of everything that this piece of meat has received in its whole life.
Ramona: Can you even see a picture of the cow?
Pablo: I don’t know if you want to, but you could. And there’s been more examples like this: Carrefour has been doing it in Spain with free range chicken and things like that. They are also interested in the relationship between the citizen and the government. And what they have now, is called ‘the digital file’. When you apply for a driver’s licence or something in the government, a digital file is created and is then shared between all the offices of the government. They want to have the traceability of that digital file as it goes trough all the government offices. You as a citizen can see who approved which part of the process of what you are doing.
Ramona: So, it’s more transparent?
Pablo: Exactly. We also went to visit the project ‘One Computer per Child’ and they are very interested in digitising the whole certificates and diplomas. So that becomes part of the ‘Diploma per Person’ and it is verified by the university on the blockchain. So, you don’t only say you’ve received a degree, but you can verify that you’ve received a degree.
Ramona: No scams are possible anymore?
Pablo: Exactly, that’s another aspect in terms of the POC. And they were very open. What we found, is that they actually have a blockchain roadmap, that they have created. Where there are technology agnostics and they help the other government offices in how to implement these solutions. Especially for transparency and for online solutions for citizens.
Ramona: It’s always good to hear some Use-Cases, some actual projects. Cause it is always so theoretical and no one knows how to use it, but that’s great.
Pablo: I think this year, 2019, you are going to see the starts of more and more companies doing their POCs. But I think of the end of this year, you are probably going to see larger and larger applications of blockchain.
Ramona: Yeah, we’ve already covered a few in our blog, but it’s always good to hear about more projects.
Pablo: Yes, and the interesting thing is it is expanding geographies. Aeternity is working on a project in Africa with insurance for motorcyclists for their basic health. They cover you when you go to the emergency room. This is the most critical point when somebody has an accident on a motorcycle. I think that you are starting to see these different applications, that are going to scale in the next couple of years. And more and more companies are going to say ‘Wow, we are also interested in doing this’. And I think that’s what’s going to restart the funding machine and the STO machine. And you know, in this last year it has come to some sort of a halt.
Ramona: After the first stones are rolling, everyone wants to jump in.
Pablo: Yes, exactly.
Ramona: And some companies will see how it works and will try to implement it as well.
Pablo: Right now, we are helping a blockchain company in Latin America, which is one of the largest retailers in Latin America. They are wiring the use of blockchain for their incentive programmes for their customer. And that’s normally how they get in, because it is not mission critical, they can sort of see the results that are coming out of there. And I think, that’s very interesting.
Ramona: So, are you also planning on making Liechtenstein crypto-fit?
Pablo: Well yes, that’s one of the things that I am very interested in real-life applications in Liechtenstein that there are examples. And I think that it is a very easy place to do it. First of all, because it has the right set of motivation, and second, because of its size. We could literally have every Liechtenstein citizen have and use crypto for a different aspect of their government interactions. There’s digital identity, for example. I think this year, we are going to start proposing different types of solutions, that can be applied in Liechtenstein. And I think that, you know, if you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.
Ramona: And I think it is really easy to get the numbers right. Like 50% of restaurants are being able to be paid by bitcoin – that’s quite easy to achieve here in Liechtenstein, then in other bigger countries.
Pablo: Exactly. One of the projects that I did Uruguay, I launched the first mobile payment company in Latin America, and that was in 2004/5. Before we even really had smartphones. By then we had 10% smart cell phones. The rest were regular phones. And we launched that there. So, I think there’s many ideas in the pipeline to be able to use here in Liechtenstein as real solutions.
Ramona: All right then, Pablo. Thank you very much for the interview!
Pablo: No, thank you very much for having me and it is always a pleasure!