The Documentary: Crypto Rico: Blockchain For A Broken Paradise

Tuesday 24 July

1.30pm-2.00pm

BBC WORLD SERVICE

Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico is becoming an unlikely launchpad for a blockchain boom.

Whilst thousands of Puerto Ricans are leaving the island after Hurricane Maria, a small group of wealthy ‘crypto-preneurs’, are moving to this US territory. At the centre is crypto pioneer and entrepreneur Brock Pierce, the de-facto head of this decentralised and unconventional group with equally unconventional plans. They harbour hopes to reboot paradise using blockchain technology, the revolutionary idea which helped create digital currencies like Bitcoin, and bring prosperity back to this struggling island. But are they and their plans welcome?

The BBC’s Rafael Abuchaibe meets some of the newly arrived blockchain enthusiasts, as well as local Puerto Ricans who are already exploring ways blockchain can kick-start enterprises, from organising hackathons to creating a local crypto-currency.

However, not all residents welcome these plans: some worry this is just the most modern phase of a long history of colonialisation and that the newcomers have come to extract wealth whilst enjoying a low-tax life in ‘paradise’.

Will PR become a shining example of how this open and disruptive technology can democratise fiscal recovery - or will any resulting prosperity remain in the hands of the few?

  • Produced by Melanie Brown for BBC World Service

EM3