Bitcoin adoption in Mexico boosted by Lightning partnership with retail giant

Bitcoin 2023 Conference in Miami

The Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami, Florida, the world’s largest gathering of Bitcoin (BTC) enthusiasts, went by without much excitement this year. Previous conferences had made headlines with news of national governments adopting the cryptocurrency, massive integrations of crypto into the US, and islands and territories around the world embracing Bitcoin.

Grupo Salinas and Ibex Mercado Partnership

Despite this, a partnership with the potential to have a major effect on the 15th largest economy in the world went unnoticed at Bitcoin 2023.

José Lemus, the CEO of Ibex Mercado, concluded the Bitcoin 2023 Industry Day by revealing a partnership with Grupo Salinas, one of Mexico’s major corporate conglomerates. The agreement will enable millions of Mexicans to pay for their internet services from the renowned telecoms company Total Play through the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

The Salinas Group, which is owned by billionaire founder Ricardo Salinas Pliego – the third-richest person in Mexico – has a vast portfolio of businesses throughout the country. Salinas Pliego is a renowned Bitcoin enthusiast.

Not only has the integration of Bitcoin Lightning payments already provided Bitcoin adoption to millions of Mexicans, but, as Lemus informed Cointelegraph, Total Play is a single small retailer that is part of the huge Salinas business empire.

Lemus outlined that this is only the beginning of what will come to pass in Mexico, as Bitcoin and Lightning networks continue to grow and more on and off-ramps are established for Bitcoin-related businesses. During a video call, Lemus highlighted that Mexico is becoming more open to the use of both fiat and Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Adoption in Mexico

The partnership marks the start of Lightning capabilities across Grupo Salinas. An app for employees and a super app for soccer teams will be developed, enabling similar fan engagement initiatives to those implemented by the Perth Heat, using innovative methods.

In 2021, the Perth Heat, an Australian baseball team, adopted a Bitcoin standard, with players receiving their salaries in Bitcoin and “Sats4Stats” – a system in which players are rewarded in Bitcoin for hitting home runs. Additionally, fan engagement activities are conducted using the Lightning Network. For example, during games, “when a player steals a base, a QR code flashes on screen and the first people to scan it get satoshis,” said Lemus.

At Bitcoin 2023, Lemus declared that in the first year of operation, the Perth Heat players gained an additional 1% through Bitcoin. He stated that it is still early days for this technology, yet the additional 1% is already inspiring.

Grupo Salinas possesses the Mexican soccer teams, Mazatlán and Club Puebla. Supporters could soon be able to obtain free funds – either in the shape of Bitcoin or satoshis – just by scanning the QR code on the stadium display when a player finds the net, similar to Perth Heat.

Ibex Mercado is aware of the great potential for financial inclusion that the Lightning Network presents. Lemus created Ibex in neighboring Guatemala and two years ago the firm implemented the Lightning Network for El Salvador’s Chivo Wallet, thus providing banking services to millions of Salvadorans.

Lemus stated that increasing the utilization of Bitcoin could better the lives of those who are unbanked and underserved. Furthermore, financial inclusion is not exclusive to just providing banking services to the unbanked.

Finally, Lemus emphasized the potential of Mexico as a Bitcoin hub: “I believe that Mexico is going to be the place where this will really take off.” Additionally, 2022 looks to be a year of great promise for Bitcoin and crypto acceptance in the country, from crypto remittance firms setting up in Mexico to the growth of crypto exchanges.

The adoption of Bitcoin by Guatemalan merchants is increasing one BTC tattoo at a time.

Can crypto enthusiasts soon live off of Bitcoin, as they can in El Salvador? Lemus responded:

The collaboration with Grupo Salinas required eighteen months of effort and planning, according to Lemus. He also noted that there are additional partnerships and initiatives in store for Mexico, though he was unable to give any further information at this time.

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