By Ailin Elyasi, Senior News Editor
Menajem Benchimol and Jaime Gutt, two Sy Syms seniors, are twenty-two-year-old educators teaching the blockchain industry to an often overlooked population in technological innovation. These two young men are the pioneers introducing a simple educational platform on the overly convoluted subject, and they plan to graduate Syms in 2020.
Blockchain arose after the 2008 stock market crash that created Bitcoin, a digital currency supposedly immune to the ebbs and flows of national currencies. Bitcoin required a digital ledger that hackers could not alter; what good would Bitcoin be if it could be easily stolen or changed by any computer genius? Thus, blockchain was created to keep a record of all alterations on Bitcoin and maintain currency honesty.
Many people like Benchimol and Gutt, however, understand that Bitcoin is only the first application that blockchain can revolutionize; blockchain has potential to replace the way people buy goods and verify authenticity in areas like healthcare, banking, and real estate.
Therefore, Benchimol and Gutt have spent the past three years researching, investing, and creating new usages for the industry. This year, they launched a platform, entirely in Spanish, to educate the Latin American community about this new technology. In fact, Benchimol and Gutt have already given classes at the School of Banking and Commerce in Mexico City, educating the next generation of Latin entrepreneurs on the uses of blockchain, which they will continue to do with their platform.
Benchimol was born in Cali, Colombia and co-founder Gutt was born in Caracas, Venezuela, so their roots explain their reason for specifically targeting and giving back to the Latin American community. Though both their families respectively moved to Miami when they were young children, their family and culture keep them connected to their roots. The two became fast friends at YU, with a shared interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
After they both noticed Latin America’s late access to technology – Uber has just recently been introduced in Latin American countries – Benchimol and Gutt decided that they wanted to be the ones to introduce blockchain technology to the rest of Latin America. Benchimol said, “Throughout history, we Latinos have always come to technology late. We want to make sure that South America is not coming late to [blockchain] technology. We want South America to be leaders in this industry. We want South America to be introducing the technology on top of blockchain.”
And from there, LATAM Blockchain originated. There are two parts to Benchimol and Gutt’s services. One is their consulting services for established blockchain technologies and the other is their educational system, needed because “no one really knew what blockchain was, so we had to create an educational platform together with a Mexican start-up called Lumit,” says Benchimol.
The platform features interactive online classes with homework assignments, teachers, and short, specific lessons.
But perhaps the most impressive feat is the pair’s work promoting cryptocurrencies in Latin American countries like Venezuela, where the Bolivar’s hyperinflation has rendered the currency practically worthless. In places like this, as well as in countries like Argentina, the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can be a more stable option for storing money than the volatile national currency.
LATAM Blockchain’s Joint Venture, Academia 21, has recently launched here.