Lisabona's Flourishing Web3 Scene by@nerv

Lisabona's Flourishing Web3 Scene

May 22nd 2022 1,267 reads
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Aims to present the current status quo of the situation of Web3 in the capital of Portugal. Portugal is a tax haven when compared to other jurisdictions such as the USA, France or Spain where cryptocurrencies are considered not a currency per se but propriety and are thus subject to higher levels of taxation whenever there is a transfer regardless of its nature. Two luxury homes were sold and legally contractualized by exchanging cryptocurrency only. Other than that, informa meetings around Web3 are happening regularly.
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Network Emergency Response Volunteers

We are a DAO committed to help societies become less autocratic by developing and implementing digital tools in politics


I should disclose beforehand a personal bias; in fact I am a little lettuce[1] (the nickname that locals call to those born in the city of Lisbon). The goal of this article is indeed to present the current status quo of the situation of Web3 in the capital of Portugal. I took the month of April precisely to experience what this city has to offer in the Web3 scene in many of its facets. The reason being I work with a group specialized in blockchain on-line voting and am currently looking for a place to install ourselves and launch our product.


I am assuming the reader of this article is already familiar with most of the concepts surrounding Web3. From its decentralization to cryptocurrencies, DAOs to the token economy and what-not. And if not, please do get familiar[2],[3], for we might be talking about one of the most impactful technological changes since the appearance of the internet itself. So, lets get straight to the business: what is the current state of crypto in Portugal?[4]


Legislation


According to a binding pronunciation made by the Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira[5] (public authority responsible  for the administration of taxes and custom duties) cryptocurrencies although not officially recognized as a legal tender (institutionalized FIAT currencies) should be treated as such (could the pronunciation have been more ambiguous?). Consequentially, there is no taxation[6] over the possession or transfer of crypto assets, unless, there is an associated economical activity which is then subject to traditional labour market and monetary regulation. In other words, Portugal is a tax haven[7] when compared to other jurisdictions such as the USA, France or Spain where cryptocurrencies are considered not a currency per se but propriety and are thus subject to higher levels of taxation whenever there is a transfer regardless of its nature. All in all we can assert that there is a legal vaccumm when considering proper legislation which implies a certain level of uncertainty as forces to the left of the economy[8] relevant in the political context of the country insist in taxing cryptocurrency by whatever means. In any case, during the past year the first apartment was bought with profit generated from crypto.[9] For this, the crypto assets were exchanged for FIAT currency before concluding and officializing the transaction (Bitcoin to Euro). More recently though two luxury homes were sold and legally contractualized by exchanging cryptocurrency only[10] (ADA[11] in this case), raising the bar as to what is possible to do legally in the country.


Meanwhile, economists, investors, scholars and politicians are meeting at events such as the likes of The Future of Crypto Regulation in Portugal which took place recently in Universidade Nova de Lisboa to discuss the future regulation of the crypto market. The blockchain technology in itself is legal and welcomed unlike what we see in other parts of the world.[12]


Legislation aside, it should be fairly easy for you to exchange FIAT to crypto and vice-versa, specially if you own any of the smartcards mentioned in the following table as they can be used in any of the ATM machines which are available everywhere throughout the country.[13] Here, Portugal belongs to the EEA, European Economic Area:


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Onboarding


Mediterranean climate, one of the safest countries to live[14], a relatively low cost of living[15] as well as being an entry point to the european markets, could Lisbon become the Sillicon Valley of Web3?


If you are interested in coming to Lisbon to work in Web3 maybe start by joinning LisbonDAO[16] where you will find a welcoming community which may help you get familiar with what is happening in the ecosystem. In case that you are merely a crypto enthusiast and not a software developer but would like to deepen your programming skills so that  you can help create the so necessary new platforms, it maybe of interest for you to know that there is free education, independent of your age, level of education, country of origin, or anything else, in 42 Lisboa[17]. As for when the belly speaks, if you are trying to live of crypto only without exchanging it to FIAT, well then, a trip to Ajitama restaurant[18] allows you to pay your japanese meal with Bitcoin. Surely, other restaurants are soon to follow.


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Ajitama restaurant in the center of Lisbon accepts bitcoin as payment


So, what else does Lisbon have to offer besides ATM machines where you can withdraw FIAT from a crypto wallet easily, a government unwilling to rule for or against crypto, restaurants where you pay entirely with Bitcoin, free education and overall welcoming weather and economical environment? Well, for starters, there are many, many, informal meetings around Web3. Such is the case of those meetups held weekly at Foxtrot[19] every thursday in the capital where these photos below were taken from:


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Web3 Europe - Lisbon meeting place


In case you are looking more for an outdoor environment overlooking the city, then you should join the ranks at a more recent meetup group named Secret Garden Web3 Wednesday’s:[20]


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Secret Garden LX’s photo where discussions around Web3 take place


If you are an artist instead, also interested in all things decentralized, then the Shillin n Chillin[21] event might be the right venue. Every week crypto enthusiasts and artists meet to discuss and exchange ideas:


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Shillin n' Chillin - meeting area situated in the capital


What we just described here is a very positive cultural environment to discuss and exchange ideas about decentralization. It brings together enthusiasts, programmers, artists and everyone inbetween in beautiful places which coupled with the openess (or lack) of regulation around crypto makes Lisbon a very interesting place to be. Afterall, Web3 is expected to impact all sectors of society and is not circumscribed to the IT or financial sector only so it is good and important that these meetings are happening. On top of that, some of the most relevant IT conferences in the world also take place in the capital. Such is the case of the Web Summit.[22]


Looking for a cheap coworking space shared with other Web3 focused companies?


The Block[23] asking price starts at 300€ a month. It also hosts crypto meetups every friday.


If you are not looking to live outside of your own country however, but still would like to be part of Lisbon's flourishing Web3 scene then at least take note of LisCon[24], from 20th to 21st October and ETH Lisbon[25], which takes place during 9th to 11th September, both happening this year. It might be worth the trip as these are considered important conferences.


Sure Lisbon is obviously not the only place where important conferences and interesting meetups around Web3 are happening. Here[26] a very fine curated list of Web3 related events taking place this year made by the Crypto Nomads Club. I also strongly advise you to search on Eventbrite[27] and Meetup[28] to see what is happening in the areas around your location.


Continuing the journey


Lisbon does seem a little paradise for young digital nomads. But is everything so pinky? Arguably. Young entrepeneurs often seek financing for their projects. And for this they need to get in contact with venture capital or collaborate and work at IT startup hubs (also known as incubators or accelerators). Well these are rare in the country and often inactive or without enough capital to invest in new and high risk projects. Indico Capital[29], Draper Startup House[30] and Startup Lisboa[31] are some of the very rare exceptions. Other financial markets such as those of London, Barcelone, Paris or in Germany are much, much more interesting. A curated list[32] made by me brings this fact to light. So, for those looking for investors or big incubators or startup hubs, unfortunely, Lisbon might not be the right place for you. However if you are working remotely on a project that is already generating revenue, it might be.[33]


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Startup Lisboa meeting that took place the 7th of April in which I participated. The event was small, short and nothing really of interest came out of it.


Nevertheless, despite lagging behind in terms of venture capital and angel investors, which is a fulcral point, Lisbon is still an active place where Web3 developers like to work and meet. One those meetings during the period of my stay, took place in an historical building[34], the Offchain Lisbon:[35]


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Historic building, the Carmo Convent


At the other side of this facade, the informal meeting:


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Offchain Lisbon meeting the 20th of April 2022


This is where my journey through Web3 world began to get a little political as the meeting was taking place no longer than a month and two weeks after the Russian-Ukraine conflict escalated. What took me of as a surprise was to actually have met both an ukranian and russian software developers on the same place. I spoke to them both separately but avoided to mention anything regarding the war. The russian guy confessed to me though, without me asking, that he was in Lisbon precisely because he was against the conflict and felt the urge to flee Russia as he was not alligned with what was happening. This reinforced my own beliefs concerning this issue in that neither the average citizen of Ukraine nor of Russia really wanted this war to have ever started or even to continue. It resonated with my world view in that, all over the globe, we are being held hostages to a highly corrupt political class that works hands in hands with heartless economical elites which are protected by naive army soldiers, in order to keep the regular citizen under siege and living in constant fear. But that is just my opinion.


Five days after the Offchain Lisbon meeting, the streets of the capital became full of people protesting against the current poltical-economical situation in the country marking the 25th of April which is celebrated as the day that the old dictactorship regime in Portugal transitioned to a supposed democracy in 1974 (not so long ago, was it?) in an event that came to be known as the Carnation Revolution[36]. Coincidentally, the revolution in 1974 happened precisely in the same location, Largo do Carmo, where the Offchain Lisbon took place few days before.


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Photo 25th April 2022 in the capital's main avenue: Avenida da Liberdade


I could not help but feel that history is a cycle that repeats itself. How many regime changes, coup d'etats, wars do we have to endure as humanity before realizing the reason and true nature of our existence?


Bear with me for a second, we will come back to the Web3… Anecdotally, the current political regime in Portugal is called the Third Republic. The First Republic was installed in 1910. In less than 100 years the country has gone through 3 regime changes, from an autocratic monarchy to a fragile democracy, back to a dictatorship, then back to a supposed democracy that we are currently living in and all the while those people on the photo above were manifesting against the political establishment today, still. Will Web3 be the next revolution? Will it be the last? I don't know and just wished we came to our senses.


Yes, I am working with on-line voting and its applications in DAOs and politics, but am I really contributing to a more fair and just society or to a more distopian future where the computer dictactes ever more our individual and collective destiny? Honestly, I don't know.


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Soldiers during the peaceful revolution with carnation flowers in their weapons in 1974


Moving on… As my journey approached the end, not because I wasn't having fun but because I had to return to the country where I am living abroad now, I had the chance to participate in two more meetings with other crypto enthusiasts. This time around we were to be the Future Founders:


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Future Founders meeting photo


Indeed working on blockchain on-line voting (1-person-1-vote and not token based) makes me feel like a founder of the future. A feeling sure to be shared by dozens of other developers, DAO participants and crypto investors that I met during my stay and that are also contributing to the decentralization of many different aspects of our society. A future in which important decisions concerning our own lives are not made by far away elites, be them political, economical, religious or military. Just imagine working for a multinational DAO which has no one at the top of the hierarchy but is rather organized democratically and where every member has the same right to have a say!


The way I see it, the Web3 revolution is not just about the decentralization of the process of minting and owning money or informaion, but more broadly, it is the decentralization of all forms of power; this revolution may as well never be complete if we do not decentralize decision-making procedures, and that is the reason why I am signing this article under a DAO named the Network Emergency Response Volunteers (NERV), whose ultimate goal is to help democratize organizations.


Lastly, a shoutout to David from Rolling Cryptos[37] that hosted what to me was the most fun event:


Photo taken during the Rolling Cryptos - Lisbon Web3 Founders Festival - Journey to Cryptoberfest.de

Photo taken during the Rolling Cryptos - Lisbon Web3 Founders Festival - Journey to Cryptoberfest.de

Photo taken during the Rolling Cryptos - Lisbon Web3 Founders Festival - Journey to Cryptoberfest.de


It was during this last mentioned event, the Lisbon Web3 Founders Festival - Journey to Cryptoberfest.de, that I learned about an exotic and fun Web3 project; a decentralised book. The idea is to write in a collaborative way a story where contributors own a share of the final product and where the readers can stir the direction of its content. The idea is not a novelty, it has been done by traditional means. Now is the time to do it the digitally shared way.


Lisbon hype?


Long story short; it does not make sense to talk about a central hub for the decentralized future, really. And what better words to describe what this is all about other than quoting the ending paragraphs of The Social Smart Contract written by the Democracy.Earth group:


"The status-quo will always speak from a skeptical position since halting progress can only come from a position of comfort. But just as the Internet didn't wait for the adaptation of age-old empires, blockchains won't care for political promises: a technologically advanced society can enter agreements of mutual cooperation without falling back to the means of coercion and violence.


(...)


Such is the remarkable consequence of disintermediation of trust without boundaries, a reality that won't emerge in a single isolated part of a country or region of the globe, but will be distributed across the entire planet. The next Silicon Valley is not in a far away land or on any land at all, but a new frontier of the internet itself rising as the one true open, free and sovereign network of peers."


So allow me to end this article by thanking all of you that I met during my incursion in Lisbon Web3, you are all wonderful people and true warriors fighting the right battle.


Do not give up.


Authored by @nerv



Links to Sources


[1] Alfacinha entry in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfacinha


[2] "What is Web3? The Decentralized Internet of the Future Explained" by Nader Dabit on freeCodeCamp, 2021, https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/what-is-web3/


[3] "Let Web3 Flow: Democratizing Data Ownership to Curb Malpractice" by the Network Emergency Response Volunteers (NERV), 2022, https://hackernoon.com/let-web3-flow-democratizing-data-ownership-to-curb-malpractice


[4] "Portugal – The Most Crypto-Friendly Nation in Europe" by Jean Galea on the author's blog, 2021,  https://jeangalea.com/portugal-crypto-bitcoin/


[5] "Tributação das cripto-moedas ou moedas virtuais" by Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira, Portugal, 2016, https://info.portaldasfinancas.gov.pt/pt/informacao_fiscal/informacoes_vinculativas/rendimento/cirs/Documents/PIV_09541.pdf


[6] "11 Countries That Don't Tax Bitcoin Gains (2021)" by Adriana Hamacher and Stephen Graves, Decrypt, 2021,  https://decrypt.co/43513/countries-that-dont-tax-bitcoin-gains


[7] "The ‘Bitcoin Family’ emigrates to Portugal for its 0% tax on cryptocurrencies" by MacKenzie Sigalos on CNBC, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/06/bitcoin-family-moves-to-portugal-crypto-tax-haven.html


[8] "Bloco de Esquerda propõe alargar IRS às criptomoedas" by Flávio Nunes and Tiago Varzim on ECO, SAPO, 2021,  https://eco.sapo.pt/2021/12/21/bloco-de-esquerda-propoe-alargar-irs-as-criptomoedas/


[9] "Portugal registers first real estate property sale via Bitcoin payment" by Vaishali Goel, CryptoShrypto, 2022, https://cryptoshrypto.com/portugal-real-estate-bitcoin-payment/


[10] "Portugal: two luxury homes sold for cryptocurrencies" by Fabiana D'Urso, the Cryptonomist, 2021, https://en.cryptonomist.ch/2021/10/26/portugal-two-luxury-homes-sold-for-cryptocurrencies/


[11] "What is Ada?" entry on Cardano's website, https://cardano.org/what-is-ada/


[12] "Legality of cryptocurrency by country or territory" entry on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cryptocurrency_by_country_or_territory


[13] "CARTÃO VISA CRYPTO.COM PROVA DE SAQUE NO MULTIBANCO" entry on YouTube, https://youtu.be/exkSvdjbNcA


[14] "Safest Countries in the World 2022" entry on World Population Review sourced from "Global Peace Index 2021",  https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/safest-countries-in-the-world


[15] "Cost of living in Lisbon, Portugal" entry on Expatistan, https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/lisbon


[16] Lisbon DAO, https://pet3rpan.mirror.xyz/sxg0BwNFN_o6HoRPrCv8QpmwiibFlzuBQtqgTaycpxk


[17] 42 Lisboa, https://www.42lisboa.com/


[18] "No Ajitama já é possível pagar com criptomoedas, uma novidade na restauração" by Cláudia Lima Carvalho on TimeOut magazine, 2021, https://www.timeout.pt/lisboa/pt/noticias/no-ajitama-ja-e-possivel-pagar-com-criptomoedas-uma-novidade-na-restauracao-092421


[19] "Web3 Europe - Lisbon" meetup published on Eventbrite, https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/web3-europe-lisbon-tickets-256859492657


[20] "Secret Garden Web3 Wednesday’s" meetup published on Eventbrite, https://www.eventbrite.pt/e/secret-garden-web3-wednesdays-registration-329877651937


[21] "Shillin n Chillin" event published on Meetup, https://www.meetup.com/lisbon-crypto-meetup-group/events/285462012/


[22] Web Summit, https://websummit.com/


[23] The Block, coworking space in Lisbon housing Web3 projects, https://www.theblocklisboa.com/


[24] LisCon, https://liscon.org/


[25] ETH Lisbon, https://www.ethlisbon.org/


[26] "Crypto Events 2022" by Crypto Nomads Club, https://cryptonomad.club/, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KtyFTb_W282bQ1xoVA5rlTwTDz3QfhswWIVpXhpbQIc/edit#gid=0


[27] Eventbrite, https://www.eventbrite.com/


[28] Meetup, https://www.meetup.com/


[29] Indico Capital, https://www.indicocapital.com


[30] Draper Startup House, https://draperstartuphouse.com/lisbon-portugal


[31] Startup Lisboa, https://www.startuplisboa.com/


[32] "Market research for startups looking for investment" by NERV, https://pad.envs.net/sheet/#/2/sheet/view/5qwEc3JKsDLijMT6ZaZseVbTmQ-Q8GPFg2RJ9cjw1wo/embed/


[33] "Lisbon, Miami and Dubai Ranked Best Places to Work for High Earners"  by Damian Shepherd on Bloomberg magazine, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-04-26/lisbon-tops-hybrid-working-ranks-for-globetrotting-executives


[34] Carmo Convent entry on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmo_Convent


[35] OffChain, https://offchain.social/


[36] Carnation Revolution entry on Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnation_Revolution


[37] Rolling Cryptos, https://www.rollingcryptos.com/

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by Network Emergency Response Volunteers @nerv.We are a DAO committed to help societies become less autocratic by developing and implementing digital tools in politics
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