Christophe De Beukelaer has fully joined the ranks of politics as a member of parliament for the Brussels region in 2019. A management engineer by training, he is also the founder of a company in the organic food industry, which he delegated the management of to devote himself to his job as an MP.
In 2017, Christophe De Beukelaer discovered bitcoin and started investing in cryptocurrencies from that year on. Concerned about what he was investing a small portion of his money in, he took a close look at bitcoin as well as blockchain technology. Later, wanting to expand his knowledge in the field, he also looked into the financial system in which our societies evolve.
In January 2022, Christophe De Beukelaer made news when he announced that he would convert his entire salary into bitcoin every month. He said, "My gesture aims to wake up consciences and say to all, politicians and economists, 'watch out, something is going on, when are we going to pay attention?'" Although this action is not unprecedented in the world, it is the first time that an MP in Europe has taken such an initiative.
C. De Beukelaer has found that political actors in Belgium are wary of blockchain and bitcoin, and he believes this is partly due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of these technologies. It was to spark debate and thought around the potential of blockchain that he decided to get paid in bitcoin. It is also because of this mistrust that C. De Beukelaer co-founded the Brussels Blockchain Week, a conference that brings together personalities from the political and entrepreneurial world to discuss blockchain. The Brussels MP quickly realized that collaboration between these two worlds was necessary to move things forward.
For various reasons, the state did not directly pay the MP's salary in bitcoin into one of his wallets. Instead, he converted his salary into bitcoin every month with the help of the Belgian exchange platform Bit4you.
Christophe De Beukelaer, a Member of Parliament involved in issues such as climate and energy, has also been interested in governance. He sought to understand how political decision-making works, how states and state entities are financed, and how public administrations manage their budgets. He also looked at the accessibility of the financial system and how to level the playing field.
By collecting his salary in bitcoin, C. De Beukelaer wanted to show his confidence in the blockchain system and facilitate the relationship between the financial world and the citizen. His action does not aim to replace one system by another, but to make two systems coexist. According to him, a counter-power is essential to reduce the risks of drifts of a centralized financial system, and the blockchain could be this counter-power. It would thus bring innovations and advantages such as transparency, decentralization, democratization of finance and better accessibility to it.
It is also for these reasons that he recommends that financial concepts such as inflation, debt, stocks, government bonds, etc., be taught from school in order to better understand the financial system around us and contribute to its evolution.
One year after choosing to receive his salary in bitcoin, Christophe De Beukelaer takes stock. The Brussels MP has indeed kept his promise and converted his entire salary into bitcoin every month for a year. From a financial perspective, there are two opposing results. In the short term, the MP suffered a devaluation of his bitcoins, as the cryptocurrency market began a downward trend amidst inflation and the European war. However, in the long run, his regular purchases allowed him to buy bitcoins at competitive prices and smooth out his buying position. In a few years, converting his salary into bitcoin could prove to be very fruitful.
Nevertheless, let's remember that his gesture was not motivated by financial reasons, but rather political ones. Indeed, he wanted to raise awareness of blockchain technology and show that it can offer alternative solutions to the problems of the current financial system.
Finally, despite the limited impact on the general public, Christophe De Beukelaer's initiative had the merit of highlighting the potential of blockchain. By raising awareness of blockchain technology among his colleagues, he has helped pave the way for a broader and deeper understanding of decentralized finance. While widespread adoption of blockchain is not in the cards for tomorrow, acts like C. De Beukelaer's can help change things.