It’s all about economics, cryptocurrencies, art and future projections. To talk about all of this Cointelegraph en Español He turned to the artist Alberto Echegaray, the director of Trustlink and former Argentine representative on the Financial Action Task Force.
Cointelegraph: First, let’s talk about your artwork, that Moneyball.
Alberto Echegaray: Moneyball started developing in 2012. It’s a piece that touches something that is taboo in art: money. And it’s still off-limits, though it’s changing now with NFTs.
What Moneyball is trying to show is how most, or basically all, fiat currencies currently have no backing in the world. And how many governments use the issuance of these currencies to generate inflation, which is basically a tax – a phantom that steals people’s purchasing power.
With this concept, I started working on Moneyball with dollars. I lived in Washington DC for about 12 years – doing some deliberation for the Fed. That’s how I came to the Fed. I was invited to tour the facilities of a department that prints dollars.
At that time, they replaced old dollars with the new dollars that are now in circulation. In one part I found a huge warehouse where billions of dollars were destroyed. I thought: That’s incredible. You couldn’t take pictures – there were a lot of security measures in place. I asked for the destroyed money, but I was told that the money is state property, it is not our property. And even if it’s destroyed, it’s still federal property.
I had to write a number of letters and after a few months they gave me $ 2 million in $ 100 bills, destroyed. And so I started creating the artwork.
CT: And how did you come up with the idea of adding Bitcoin to your work?
AE: In late 2013, a Venezuelan in San Francisco told me about BTC and gave me some that I still have. I didn’t pay much attention to it until 2015 or 2016.
I spoke to several people in Silicon Valley and they told me it would be part of the future, especially blockchain. I started buying Bitcoin and really got into it. Then I opened a fund and became a crypto missionary.
“It was really interesting. Bitcoin started to grow. At that time I was able to travel to different countries for work. I started to see resistance from all financial sectors. It seemed like I was talking about something related to crime or money laundering. It was terrible.”
But in 2016 I was contacted by a person who became part of the Argentine government and needed help with technology to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. It was Mariano Federici, head of the financial investigations department. The FIU had practically nothing to fight against money laundering with Bitcoin and crypto. It was a disaster. I was asked for help and it was an interesting challenge. Advanced systems for analysis, data and information were installed.
But I wasn’t interested in prosecuting the crime; I was much more interested in the technical and the crypto part. At that time, Europol was holding a meeting where security specialists on crypto and cybercrime met. I was new, but I was invited by the Argentine government. Then I was invited to the FATF again and there I met some people – especially from the US, China, Russia, South Africa and Australia – who knew something about crypto. They were a very strong team. And I started to see how the regulations would play out
CT: Did you want to do more and see the other side behind the curtain?
AE: That was in 2016/2017. Before joining FATF in the Argentine chair, I had four years of experience in Paris on regulatory issues. In parallel with this, I had started developing an off-market private note and it was the first synthetic bank whose underlying asset was Bitcoin.
And there I was able to structure a financial product that you could invest from a bank account. It was super successful until the banks told me they couldn’t accept money because it was BTC.
I started thinking about Cryptoball. If I went through fiat money and showed it was worthless, I would have said I’ll try crypto. I started developing the Cryptoball, but in 2017/2018 it was difficult to get curved displays showing the price of BTC. I had to reach out to someone in China who would give me access to flexible screens.
Cryptoball is a ball with two flexible screens connected to software in a processor. The processor displays the real-time value of BTC stored in a hardware wallet within the piece. It shows the price in yen, euros and dollars. At that point, I got 250 BTC and put it in the Ledger wallet.
“In addition to the installation at the Venice Biennale, I placed a million dollars and a million euros. There were a lot of young people. A lot of people in the art world have asked me what it is because they didn’t understand. “
Then a European collector I didn’t know came up to me. He offered to meet me in a restaurant the next day. It was very interesting because then they contacted me on his behalf and talked about “His Royal Highness”.
It turned out that he was a prince who was very supportive of the culture. We sat down and talked about the work of art. I couldn’t believe it because the Venice Biennale is not a place to sell.
The biennial ended and I brought the work of art to his house, a place in Switzerland. It’s a very interesting story.
CT: The art and crypto worlds get along very well. What do you think of NFTs? Do you have any plans to work with this technology?
AE: I’ll start by tokenizing some works. I’m thinking about marking the ball, but I want it to be something interesting. Not just a 3D design of works of art or sculptures, but, for example, a kind of live ticker that shows the price. Something that exists in real life, that exists in parallel in different dimensions.
I also work on 3D mapping and expanding reality with a group of people. I was also invited to be a consultant on an NFT platform where artists are established.
I think we are at the beginning of tokenization and a lot of interesting things that the art can spread. By that I mean that it used to be very difficult for artists who graduated from art schools to get access to galleries. That changes dramatically. Now graduates from art schools who have chosen digital or virtual art are receiving job offers, as is the case, for example, in the games industry.
This will be added to all of the mass consumer brands entering the virtual world. It’s amazing what’s coming.
CT: Do you think banks will work with crypto or against crypto in relation to the future of private banking?
AE: All major banks already have major crypto research departments. They know that this is a new system within the financial system. It’s like when we talk about landlines and cell phones – they’ll end up cannibalizing everything.
But they are still sticking to their transfer systems and methods of collecting commissions and making money, and they haven’t noticed that this has changed dramatically.
“If you don’t understand Staking or DeFi and don’t apply it quickly, you will see your business go away overnight. There are some who try to understand, but it is very difficult. “
The same applies to the regulatory authorities. There aren’t enough human resources to ask who understands both worlds. And there is no capacity, thinking power and determination. They think there is still a long way to go.
CT: How do you think the state of the global monetary system will develop in 2030?
AE: I think there will be great opportunities for the new generations. It is a parallel system of government based on the speed of technology. I think in 2030 there will be a society that is on the one hand more integrated and on the other hand more discriminatory. They will be very powerful groups.
What we’re seeing with crypto is basically an asset or private currency revolution like we’ve never seen before. In the case of crypto, I clearly see private systems connected to private space systems that may or may not be open source. I see banks in this area, much more advanced digital assets and the tokenization of raw materials in the future.
Traders don’t want to lose control of all of this. It’s kind of a projection that I see. I think there will be a new system that is neither capitalist nor socialist.