Mauricio Toro was far from being a household name in Colombia. As a congressional candidate, he decided to accepted Bitcoin and Ether contributions for his political campaign and now he has won a seat at the House of Representatives in Colombia. This could have been a marketing ploy, or he might have the intention to push a wider technological agenda for development, in a country in which authorities have been openly hostile to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Colombians will find out over his tenure if he really intended to promote the use of blockchain technology and advance cryptocurrency advocacy. As of now, there might be a correlation between the coverage he got for his platform and the support he got as a relatively unknown candidate during the election.
A Lack of Transparency
Mauricio Toro won a seat in the House of Representatives of Colombia amid political uncertainty and without political backing. Accepting Bitcoin and Ether contributions to his campaign was his innovation, but it is difficult to understand just how much he got in Bitcoin or Ether donations because his addresses are not available publicly. Instead, there is a message on his web site asking potential cryptocurrency donors to contact his campaign directly to donate, due to “compliance with AML norms.” This may sound as a dubious move, since it doesn’t allow the public to understand how much money he really got through his cryptocurrency contributions.
This lack of transparency makes it seem as if the candidate used his cryptocurrency platform to get more attention form the media instead of defeating the politics of old. The other possibility is that the candidate is not that tech savvy. There are ways of ensuring AML compliance and an address disclosure at the same time to allow the public to understand the scope of cryptocurrency contributions. A simple policy of returning funds that came from addresses that were not white-listed through proper AML and KYC procedures would have been enough to both disclose the public addresses and make sure the campaign understands where contributions came from, according to the law.
Mauricio Toro’s Agenda
Nevertheless, it is prudent to give the candidate the benefit of the doubt. Analyzing his political agenda could shed some more light on the candidate’s intentions. Toro is promoting a pro small business agenda. His focus is on people who are finding it hard to find credit for their endeavors and students paying students loans. He comes from an entrepreneurial background and he has said in interviews that he ran to improve how the law treats small entrepreneurs. He said that, by accepting Bitcoin, he is proving that this campaign is “different and innovative” as well as showing his “commitment to fintech innovation” and to the adoption of new technologies that allow a more inclusive, participative society.
Bitcoin is a Fantastic Marketing Tool
But he has not been very specific about how he plans to push this wider technological agenda. This once again raises suspicions about his intentions in accepting campaign contributions using cryptocurrencies. It might all be a marketing ploy. Indeed, his cryptocurrency strategy got him around ten free newspaper headlines running up to the election. The newspapers seemed to be thrilled covering the candidate who ran on Bitcoin. They were not necessarily talking about what he wanted to do once he won the seat. It seems those journalists lost their focus and got caught in the perception of innovation that the candidate was selling. None of those newspaper articles focused on the lack of disclosure about the cryptocurrency contributions that the candidate might have gotten. It seems that Bitcoin is a fantastic marketing tool that politicians are increasingly using.
Not the First Time Political Platforms Based on Cryptocurrency Elements Succeed
In the last few years the United States has taken the lead with many rising Republicans accepting Bitcoin donations for their campaigns. Such is the case of Missouri Republican candidate Austin Petersen, who in 2018 received the single biggest Bitcoin donation in federal election history. Also Republican Rand Paul accepted BTC donations in his 2016 campaign. And in Iceland there is an entire political party, the Pirate Party, that runs on a crypto platform and succeeded in the last election. Mauricio Toro added his name to these success stories. Now time will tell if he joins the rest of those politicians in doing the same old trick with a new tool.