Lightning partnership with retail giant boosts Bitcoin adoption in Mexico.

The largest Bitcoin conference in the world, Bitcoin 2023, was held in Miami, Florida, this year without much fanfare. Previous conferences had announced the adoption of Bitcoin by nation-states, massive crypto integrations in the United States, and the embracing of Bitcoin by islands and territories worldwide.

However, at Bitcoin 2023, one partnership that could have a significant impact on the world’s 15th-largest economy went unnoticed.

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Grupo Salinas. Looking forward to seeing the positive impact this collaboration will have.⚡️ #Bitcoin #bitcoiconference2023

— IBEX ⚡️ (@PoweredbyIBEX) May 18, 2023

The CEO of Ibex Mercado, José Lemus, announced the partnership with Grupo Salinas, one of Mexico’s largest corporate conglomerates, at the end of the Bitcoin 2023 Industry Day. The collaboration would enable millions of Mexicans to pay their internet bills at popular telecoms company Total Play using the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Importantly, the Salinas Group owns tens of businesses across Mexico. Its billionaire founder, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, is the third-richest person in the country and a well-known Bitcoin maximalist.

The Bitcoin Lightning payments integration not only delivers Bitcoin adoption to millions of Mexicans, but Total Play is also just one small retailer that’s part of the vast Salinas conglomerate, as Lemus explained to Cointelegraph:

“Imagine if Best Buy, Bank of America, Fox News, and an NFL team were all owned by the same individual. All of them will have Lightning capabilities in the future.”

Lemus explained that this partnership is just the beginning of Lightning functionality across Grupo Salinas, with a Lightning app for employees and a super app for soccer teams. The Australian baseball team, Perth Heat, has already adopted a Bitcoin standard in 2021, with players earning salaries in Bitcoin and fan engagement activities using the Lightning Network.

Grupo Salinas owns the Mexican football clubs Mazatlán and Club Puebla, and fans could soon get free Bitcoin or satoshis by simply scanning the QR code on the stadium screen when a player scores, just like with Perth Heat.

Ibex Mercado sees the massive opportunity for financial inclusion offered by the Lightning Network. Lemus founded Ibex in neighboring Guatemala, and the company delivered the Lightning Network integration for El Salvador’s Chivo Wallet, which effectively banked millions of Salvadorans, two years ago.

Lemus explained that more Bitcoin adoption could improve the lives of unbanked and underserved populations. Moreover, financial inclusion goes beyond banking the unbanked:

“It’s the ability to raise funds for your company. It’s the ability to open yourself to a broader market. And that is what, for me, true financial inclusion is.”

Finally, Lemus emphasized the potential of Mexico as a destination for Bitcoin: “I think Mexico is going to be the place where this will take off.” In a broader sense, 2022 showed promise for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adoption in the country, from the establishment of crypto remittance companies in Mexico to the expansion of crypto exchanges.

Related: Bitcoin adoption of Guatemalan merchants grows one BTC tattoo at a time

Does this mean that crypto enthusiasts will soon be able to live on Bitcoin, as they can in El Salvador? Lemus replied:

“Let’s say you conduct most of your life in Bitcoin, I think 18 months is a reasonable target where you can do most of your life. But obviously, things like taxes and maybe rent will not run on Bitcoin yet.”

Similarly, the partnership with Grupo Salinas took 18 months of work and preparation, according to Lemus. More partnerships and projects are on the horizon in Mexico, although it is too early to share details, Lemus concluded.

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