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The “Bitcoin Guy” Who’s Changing Latin America’s Financial Ecosystem

By Maria Saldarriaga and Pedro Mejia

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

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The Org spoke with Daniel Vogel, co-founder and CEO of Bitso, about his story and how Bitso became the biggest crypto platform and exchange in Latin America.

Daniel Vogel, CEO and Cofounder of Bitso
Daniel Vogel, CEO and Cofounder of Bitso

Latin America found itself in the middle of the crypto scene when El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender in 2021. Now the region is set to be disrupted by the adoption of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi) due to the potential it brings to better the life of millions.

In a region where remittance payments represent 2.4% of the GDP, with transaction commission costs around 10% of the total value, crypto technology drops that price to virtually zero. As with remittance payments, crypto could help fix many of the most critical economic issues that LatAm faces: high inflation, local currency depreciation and a high unbanked population.

The Org spoke with Daniel Vogel, co-founder and CEO of Bitso, about his story and how Bitso became the biggest crypto platform and exchange in Latin America. Bitso was founded in 2014 and has a market valuation of $2.2 billion.

Daniel Vogel’s background

Vogel is Mexican, and from a very young age has been fascinated with technology. He highlights that his older brother taught him how to create a website and he did just that. At the age of nine he built, a web page about radio-controlled cars.

After high school, Vogel went abroad and studied computer science and economics at Stanford University, where he graduated in 2009. Unlike his peers who wanted a career in banking investment or consulting, he found himself more attracted to the tech hype in Silicon Valley, and decided to work as a software engineer for Quantcast, an advertising technology company in San Francisco.

In his early days at Quantcast, he was introduced to Bitcoin by a Venezuelan colleague.


Daniel's first webpage: Credits Bitso.

When the Bitcoin obsession started

“After reading Bitcoin’s white paper back in 2010, I was fascinated with the idea that there was no need for a centralized system in order to create monetary value. I got hooked with the idea of Bitcoin as an economic experiment to create a fully decentralized economy that did not depend on governments,” Vogel told The Org.

Bitcoin theory allowed Vogel to understand that financial systems and monetary policies were ripe for disruption, and cryptocurrencies were the key that would allow much of this. The big question was how. “I wanted to do something but I didn't know what to do. Finding use cases for Bitcoin was very difficult.” Vogel said.

Vogel spent a couple years at Quantcast, where he developed a product that would later become the company's main source of income, and kept building his curiosity around Bitcoin and the cryptoworld, to the point that his colleagues started to know him as “the Bitcoin guy.” In 2013 Vogel began his MBA at Harvard University, and focused on exploring crypto and its applications in depth and how to leverage the technology to disrupt financial services.

The other two “bitcoin guys”

In the summer of 2014, Harvard gave Vogel a grant to build “whatever he wanted” with Bitcoin.

“At that time I was very involved in remittance payments which historically have represented an important part of Latin American family incomes,” Vogel said. He was highly inspired by the story of Julio, a fellow Mexican who used to clean the Quantcast office in San Francisco. “One day, Julio, who became a friend, asked me for $200 dollars to send home. He didn’t need that amount, but due to the high transaction fees he preferred to borrow money so he could lower the transaction cost and repay me as soon as he got his next salary,” Vogel said.

That summer Vogel went on to create a crypto business based around this specific issue called Swaply. Although the company did not last for very long, he met Pablo González and Ben Peters, who are now his partners in Bitso.

“I got introduced to Pablo by a mutual friend who literally connected us because we were the only people he knew that were talking about crypto by that time. We clicked instantly. Actually, Swaply became Bitso’s first corporate account,” Vogel recalled.

González and Peters, both also “all in” in the crypto world, had experimented with the creation of a crypto point of sale (POS) system in Canada and were now building Bitso, a crypto exchange for the Latin American market under the thesis that the region needed a platform to move cryptocurrencies in and out. Bitso's name was created by González and is a word play between Bitcoin and Peso.

Bitso Founders

Ben Peters, Daniel Vogel and Pablo González, Founders of Bitso. Credits Bitso.

Welcome to Bitso

The great camaraderie between the three led González and Peters to invite Vogel to become an advisor in Bitso. The relationship went so well that he very quickly transitioned to dedicate his full time to the company. In 2015 after finishing his MBA, Vogel went back to Mexico and became Bitso’s President and co-founder.

“An exchange was what LatAm needed in order to enable crypto adoption in the region because it would allow people and businesses to convert Bitcoin into liquidity. It was the foundation to start the financial disruption,” Vogel said.

Vogel not only focused his energy on developing the crypto exchange, but he also became well-known in the Mexican finance ecosystem after aiding in the creation of the Law to Regulate Financial Technology Institutions, or Mexican “Fintech Law,” as it is known. Enacted in 2019, it gave a formal recognition to cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. He has also been a board member of Fintech Mexico since 2017.

In 2019, with Vogel as CEO, Bitso became the only platform in Latin America regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC), the world’s first purpose-built regulatory framework for businesses using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to store or transfer value belonging to others.

Much more than an exchange

Despite the company having started as an exchange, Vogel and his co-founders knew that this was just the tip of the iceberg of what Bitso could be.

Today the company defines itself as a crypto platform that allows people to discover new ways to use money, offering the opportunity to make easy and low cost transfers (including remittance payments), build portfolios in stablecoins to protect against devaluation of local currencies, access very low-risk investment products, make easier and safer business-to-business transactions (like Stefany Ferrer’s transfer to Angel City), access credits that leverage their crypto portfolio positions and enable exchanges between the most important cryptocurrencies available.

“Bitso offers products and services for individuals and businesses to use crypto in their everyday life,” Vogel said. “Today Bitso’s mission is to build next-generation borderless financial services for consumers and businesses alike. Cryptocurrencies are the future of finance and Bitso makes the future available today.”

What’s next

Last year, after achieving the one million user milestone and showing exponential transaction volume growth, Bitso raised $62 million in a series B in March 2021 led by Kaszek and QED, followed by a $250 million Series C co-led by Tiger Global and Coatue in May 2021, becoming the second Mexican unicorn with a valuation of $2.2 billion.

Today, the company has retail operations in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. It reached four million users that traded over $21 million in a single day, and employs over 600 people around the world in 38 countries.

Bitso is working towards broadening its capabilities and product offering, such as a crypto derivatives platform and interest bearing accounts for crypto, and expanding its operations in other Latin American countries to keep working to democratize financial services for everyone.

When asked about his thoughts around the future of crypto, Vogel relies on the parallelism between the internet and crypto. “It is incredible that today you press a button and you are connected to people thousands of kilometers away. It was difficult to think of making a video on demand in the 90's, but it happened because computing power and bandwidth improved and so did the opportunities and applications for the Internet,” he said. “With crypto it is going to be a similar story, but we are still at the beginning of it.”

He is convinced that crypto will change the future of finance as we know it. “The least egalitarian products and services are the traditional financial products. There is a massive difference if you earn $60,000 per year versus one million,” he said. “At each stage the world looks completely different. This technology (crypto) is giving, and will give access to equal financial services, no matter who you are or what you have. That is what we do at Bitso: create equal access to financial products.”

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