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Rio de Janeiro’s city government will invest in cryptoassets and create a digital currency, “CariocaCoin”. But that is not all. The municipality is already conducting studies to develop NFTs of the city’s cultural heritage and to put the so-called Rio’s wonderful town in the metaverse, according to the Secretary of Economic Development and Innovation of Rio de Janeiro, Chicão Bulhões.

“We are interested not only in the cryptoasset itself but in everything that the crypto world brings. So we are discussing metaverse, blockchain, NFT, tokens”, said Bulhões in an exclusive interview with Panorama Crypto. The secretary also talked about the importance of Rio’s ecosystem of startups and companies in the crypto market and the city’s future initiatives in attending citizens in the metaverse. Check it out here:

PanoramaCrypto: Rio de Janeiro’s City Hall has set up a study group with the cryptoasset market to analyze the possibilities of how to use crypto. One of these discussions has already indicated the creation of the carioca digital currency. What else are you discussing?

Chicão Bulhões: We are interested not only in crypto itself or a particular currency, but in everything that the crypto world brings. That is, discussions about metaverse, blockchain, NFT, and token. All these new instruments that are already in the digital world and are used in the market are also the future for the city.

We are studying the following: investing part of the budget or tax payments using cryptocurrencies and creating NFTs of Rio’s cultural scenes and brands in partnership with artists. It would be a way to promote the city and generate new revenue sources. Additionally, we are discussing the creation of a virtual marketplace for the exhibition and negotiation of NFTs from Rio de Janeiro, attracting marketplaces that already exist, and developing a social and digital currency based on blockchain. Moreover, we are thinking about the blockchain to promote solidarity finance initiatives with transparent governance. These are just some of the themes we discuss in the Rio Crypto workgroup.

PanoramaCrypto: What exactly is this Rio Crypto working group, and how vital are Rio companies in fostering the municipality’s innovation in the cryptoasset segment?

Chicão Bulhões: We found out that the Rio de Janeiro crypto ecosystem is vast, with companies like Transfero and Hashdex, major players in the market. And that’s exactly where we started. We identified the companies to potentialize the ecosystem and bring the technology closer to Rio’s reality. In this sense, we created the Rio Crypto workgroup.

To potentialize the cryptoasset and surrounding technology, we need to increasingly strengthen the ecosystem here. So that companies and people consider Rio de Janeiro when investing.

PanoramaCrypto: You have mentioned about NFT and metaverse. What are the possibilities that are being designed using cryptoassets?

Chicão Bulhões: I am personally interested in the cryptoasset topic, or having a local currency based on reliable technology so that we can, for example, ease the communities’ lives that today live in risk areas and are still inserted in the informal economy. The digital currency is an essential step for them to access a digital financial system.

Another quite important topic is the possibility of NFTs exploring Rio de Janeiro’s cultural assets as an alternative revenue encompassing what is interesting about the city. For example, we are studying the possibility of taking carnival and other cultural events to the NFT and the digital world.

PanoramaCrypto: These actions are under discussion now in the Rio Crypto group. Is there any roadmap or schedule of when they will reach the public?

Chicão Bulhões: The idea is to start performing part of these actions still at the end of this year. Some discussions on NFTs are a little more advanced. But I see the end of the year as the better timing, which gives room for conversations with the market and society.

The rest of the actions will require legislative changes or technological developments, or a design that generates public policy impact.

PanoramaCrypto: Regarding Rio de Janeiro NFT, are you saying that, at some point, we might see an NFT of Christ the Redeemer’s attraction?

Chicão Bulhões: Almost. We know that Rio de Janeiro has a cultural and historical potential that could generate a lot of attraction for some NFTs that could be exclusive to users. And this could help the city of Rio de Janeiro’s revenue, as we understand that, once negotiated, the NFT continues to increase in value generating revenue for the author. It becomes permanent; it would be something interesting. We could explore our main assets also as a source of income, taking advantage of their appeal. But it is in the study phase because we are still analyzing what is possible and safe. This is very new for us; we are still learning. Rio de Janeiro is in the vanguard, as we realize that the world has changed very fast. We want to be global protagonists, which Rio has always been.

PanoramaCrypto: Regarding the metaverse, what are the possibilities for the city of Rio de Janeiro, and what are the challenges?


Chicão Bulhões: I believe that a substantial challenge is the public knowledge about the themes. I always try to explain the metaverse as the 3D internet. It is like being on the website and having your avatar there. Actually, it is on our agenda for the long run to create services for those who are already on the site. Possibly, we will be able to attend the citizens of Rio who are already in the metaverse. Why couldn’t the person access services in 3D directly on our site? I think it is possible. But this is a plan for the future; first, we need to get the ideas off the drawing boards and move forward.

Do you also plan to use blockchain to cut down on the paperwork that the city government has to deal with daily?

Chicão Bulhões: Blockchain could solve some bureaucracies much faster. It is a fantastic technology, and it can eliminate much of the bureaucracy with a lot of security. However, I think that governments are still in their infancy about the topic, and we need to accelerate the use of this technology. People need to get used to it, as they are very attached to conventional paperwork. It is a social and cultural matter.

I think the implementation of blockchain can bring more efficient use to public resources, and I think it will be inevitable. The issue is more when [blockchain will be applied] than if. We cannot leave aside that we are accelerating the process and there are natural growth pains and hurdles within public administration.

PanoramaCrypto: How can the creation and use of Rio de Janeiro’s cryptoasset decrease the “growth pains and hurdles within public administration” for the use of blockchain ?

Chicão Bulhões: The CariocaCoin, the name we are using here, can open space for people to understand the technology within public administration. It can show people that there is security in technology.

By the time the city has its own currency and puts it out there to be used, people tend to use it once it makes their lives easier. We can’t do something complex; it would be a waste of time. People always make decisions based on how they can ease their lives’ style. We are always thinking about the practical effects. We can’t stay only in theory because the theory is beautiful, but sometimes it doesn’t work. We talk to the real world.

PanoramaCrypto: What other initiatives is the City Hall taking to strengthen the innovation and technology ecosystem in Rio de Janeiro?

Chicão Bulhões: Rio de Janeiro has a vast potential to be a global player in innovation and technology. We gather all the elements: great study hubs in applied mathematics, great universities, and companies with cutting-edge innovation. And this needs to be better exploited by the city since we have a huge talent drain in this sector. People who graduated in places such as IMPA, PUC, UFF, FGV, end up going to other places to look for opportunities or become entrepreneurs. Our mission is to keep people here and leverage the vocation of Rio de Janeiro to reverberate themes of innovation. Another action we took is to eliminate the City Hall permit for low-risk activities, including several technology activities. We created the ISS-Tech, for an area we will call “Maravalley Port”.