Labor should be able to move like capital with Alex Recouso

Labor should be able to move like capital with Alex Recouso

Join us on the podcast as we chat with Alex Recouso from CitizenX, the go-to guy for getting citizenship through investment. Alex and his crew are all about helping people find new homes and new opportunities in places they never thought possible.

We'll dive into how they're making it easier to live where you want and how this ties into the bigger picture of personal freedom. Whether you're curious about living abroad or just love hearing about innovative ways to challenge the status quo, this conversation with Alex is sure to offer some fascinating insights!

Transcript

Curtis Duggan (00:01.977)
Hey everybody, welcome back. If you're watching us on YouTube or elsewhere, this is another video podcast. We're switching to video in 2024. We're really excited about it. And on that note, I'm actually really excited. I don't think we've ever done this before. I don't think we've ever done this before where we have for the first time, I'm just double checking in my mind, but I really think it's for the first time we have brought back a guest and it's not just any guest, it is.

Our first ever guest from the first ever audio podcast back way back in 2023, Alex Rocoso, you came on the show and you were starting a company called Bass Flow. This company, and you're going to tell me the story, but this company is now known as Citizen X. And really that's the first thing I want to know. If people want to hear more of your backstory, they can go listen to that first episode. Go download the feed, go listen to the first episode because this episode we're jumping right in.

And I want to know how Baseflow became or merged into CitizenX. What's the story there?

@alexrecouso (01:04.59)
Thank you very much for having me again, Curtis. That was a killer intro. Now the ball is on my roof.

Curtis Duggan (01:10.233)
Yeah, well I gotta be more like, I gotta look at the camera, we're on video, so I gotta act differently and keep the energy up for video, so I appreciate that.

@alexrecouso (01:17.974)
Yeah. Yeah.

Uh, no, that was right. Uh, yeah. So, so the, the major news, uh, since, since we last talked, uh, the biggest update was that, uh, we decided to rebrand Baselo, uh, to CitizenX. Uh, and we can jump in, uh, all the, the reasons behind that, uh, because there was not like, you know, just one single thing that, that made us, uh, do that because, you know, as, as you can imagine, it took a lot of effort. It took a lot of time, uh, and it kind of.

of made us stop other things in order to get this rebranding ready. But I think it was definitely worth it so far, these couple of weeks after the announcement have been great. We are seeing such positive feedback from everyone. But yeah, the news is that Baseflow is now CitizenX.

Curtis Duggan (02:14.233)
And was there anything in terms of, I guess the way I would put it is I saw that there was kind of like the network state company and there was might've been, you have a co -founder. I can't remember if Luis was your co -founder back then and is now. So was there any kind of governance changes or structural changes or was it just purely a marketing rebrand?

@alexrecouso (02:34.382)
It was purely a marketing rebrand. We were actually three co -founders. It is Luis P, who is our co -founder and CTO and myself. And in terms of the structuring, nothing has changed. We have the network stick company that is kind of like the parent company, the legal company. And then, you know, we were building Baseflow as the product. Now we are building CitizenX. And also we believe that with

this brand it gives more of a

let's say serious or maybe bigger dimension to the product such that it doesn't sound like an app and we can give much more weight to the brand. We can do so many more things under the CitizenX brand that we believed that we couldn't do under the Baseflow brand. This is also, no, this is one of the reasons of the...

a bit behind the rebranding. But it is purely a marketing thing. Nothing to do with the team, nothing to do with the legal structure and none of that.

Curtis Duggan (03:47.257)
Got it. So yeah, I can see why CitizenX is a grander sounding name. Baseflow is a good name, but it could be just, you know, a SaaS app, but CitizenX sounds, it does sound more like a grander, more transformational company. So I approve and I like the rebrand. Maybe you can just refresh people's memory. On this podcast, we've talked about...

remote work and digital nomad visas, temporary residency, permanent residencies. The word citizen is in citizen X. So are you specifically focused on getting people's citizenships or how broad a net do you cast in terms of migrations, residencies, visas, and ultimately citizenships?

@alexrecouso (04:30.702)
Yeah, so right now, CitizenX is focused on citizenship by investment, but we have, you know, a bigger...

vision in mind, let's say, because one of the fundamental ideas or beliefs that we have, and that also motivated the choice behind that name, is that your citizens, your citizen experience is not just, you know, your passport and your citizenship. And that's obviously, you know, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about citizenship is like, hey, I'm a citizen, this is my passport. And that's what we are doing now.

But we believe that your citizen experience is everything that has to do with you dealing with your government. You know, either as a citizen, but it can also be you dealing with a government as a resident, you dealing with the government as a business owner and incorporating your company. So that's where our vision is going. Right now, like I said, we are focused on citizenship by investment, helping people allocate capital in

into jurisdictions that they like and becoming citizens, getting second passports. But we believe that your citizen experience is also when you become a resident, a tax resident, you decide to pay taxes somewhere else or where you decide to incorporate a business and you become a business owner of that jurisdiction. So we want to encompass all of these under CitizenX. And I believe, like I was saying, that this is more of a...

you know, serious brand. And I can also get into that a bit because I think it's important. You mentioned that, you know, Baseflow was a great name for us. And that also ties a bit into the origins of Baseflow because we discussed this on the first podcast. But Baseflow started basically helping people change their residency, their tax residency, mostly focusing in Portugal, helping people get Portuguese residency.

@alexrecouso (06:36.942)
But the thing with citizenship by investment is that it's a...

fairly high capital investment. You know, we are talking about six figures plus investments. So it is something that is perceived as risky as medical information, your basically your passport, your citizenship information. And for that, we believed that we need something that was a bit more serious than, you know, base flow or that sounded less like an app.

Because also, you know, and this was mentioned by several people, but when you are doing something that is low stakes, you are willing to try things. So for example, you're willing to try a new app to connect with your friends and you don't care that much. You know, in the end, it's an app that you're just using to connect with your friends. But when you are doing something that is high stakes, like your citizenship or like your health, you want more sober brands and that gives you more trust.

And this was one of the reasons behind the name change. And also behind getting the .com domain. That was one thing that was being kind of uphill for us, not having the .com. And I can also get a bit more into that if you want, but that was, yeah.

Curtis Duggan (07:59.161)
You have citizenx .com now? Yeah. Well, that sounds like something that would have been taken. Did you have to buy it from someone?

@alexrecouso (08:07.086)
Yeah, we bought it OTC.

Curtis Duggan (08:11.425)
What's that like nowadays? Is it kind of just cold emailing and then just negotiating over email and then you agree on a price or did you use a broker?

@alexrecouso (08:20.)
Yeah, it's a very painful process because actually we were considering several alternatives. First thing I have to say is that I was surprised by basically the amount of people that have kidnapped Wood .com's.

And it's crazy to me because these people are mostly boomers that bought them like 20 years ago and that basically have great domain names that could be used to build great businesses and they're just kidnapped by them and they're asking multiple million dollars for them.

Which is kind of crazy. I think, for example, other naming systems like the ENS for the Ethereum domains make a lot more sense because basically you pay a fee every year to keep the domain and it is based on the domain name quality. So, you know, if you have a super good domain, then you're paying a lot to keep it. And that makes you, you know, just keep it if you are really building something that is valuable or, you know, you are making a business and stuff like that.

So that was the first thing. And yeah, I mean, most of the process is just, you know, finding the domain owner and then either using a broker, if you can't find it directly, negotiating the terms and all of that. With this one, we were particularly lucky because we were able to talk directly to the owner. And he was also a founder. He was, you know, a business owner. He had done other stuff previously on citysmx .com. That business didn't work for him.

for him, I think it was like an online magazine, you can look at it if you go to Web Archive. And he was basically willing to sell it. We met him and he was like, you know, super nice. So we got super good terms. Also, he had most of the social media handles, which was another one.

@alexrecouso (10:15.598)
of our requirements for the rebranding to be able to secure, you know, add CitizenX on Twitter, add CitizenX on LinkedIn, Facebook, and all of that. I believe right now the only one that we don't have is Instagram, but hopefully, you know, one day we'll have that one too.

Curtis Duggan (10:30.745)
Mm -hmm.

Curtis Duggan (10:34.777)
So for the citizen by investment programs, what are the top reasons that someone...

from anywhere. I mean, let's say from the West, let's say from a G7 country, what are the top reasons that someone who's grown up in Portugal or the United States or Canada or Australia suddenly decides one day, you know, I've got $250 ,000 or I've got $150 ,000. And instead of putting that in a 4 % ETF, or instead of putting that into a new real estate investment, I'm going to give it to the government of Malta or a real estate project or buy an apartment

in Turkey. Why do people do this? What's the motivation?

@alexrecouso (11:19.466)
First thing that is important to explain is that it really depends by geo, by location. So, you know, Western passport holders and the rest of the world are, you know, totally different animals. When it comes to the Western world and mostly the US and Canada that are the biggest markets,

it's mostly insurance. So basically, you know, these people don't have second passports. And even if they could have second passports, and I think this is an important distinction, I think, you know, these these citizenships by investment versus other citizenships that you can get via naturalization or via descent are very different, because also, you know, the way of becoming a citizen, I believe impacts.

your citizen experience. So for example, you know, for this Caribbean governments, for Malta, like these programs are

you know, meaningful for the economy and they treat you accordingly, you know, because they know that you are bringing more investment, you are creating wealth for the country and they basically want you as a citizen. So they treat you fairly nice, especially when compared to other countries. For example, I'm Spanish in Spain. So many people are getting the passport via naturalization, via descent. And you don't really, you know, get a lot of, you know, special good treatment from the Spanish government.

it's quite the opposite, especially the way things are going with possible or potential citizenship -based taxation that I believe is going to happen in Europe and most of the Western world.

@alexrecouso (13:02.99)
So like I was saying, for Western people, it's mostly getting a second citizenship from a country that they trust, that is values aligned with them. And potentially, in some cases, even though this is a bit more complex, especially for US citizens, because unless they renounce US citizenship, they will keep paying taxes to the US. But the second kind of reason for Westerners to get the second passports is to be able to move their

tax residency to these countries and to basically optimize taxes. But like I said, this is not very common. I would say a small percentage of those who get second passports actually move their tax residency to these countries and spend meaningful time there. And then when talking about non -Westerners, it's mostly visa -free access. So basically, having the possibility to travel around the world freely without worrying about visa -free access, without

Curtis Duggan (13:56.513)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (14:02.752)
without being treated poorly at the border just because of your passport and stuff like that. And then also settlement rights, like, you know, maybe someone who wants to get a visa to the EU or to the US, but it will be super hard for them to get it straight with their current passport, with their passport of birth. Maybe they are better off, you know, just investing some money in these countries, becoming a citizen, and then their application would be, you know, looked with better eyes in that.

Curtis Duggan (14:23.063)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (14:32.608)
terms of visa free access, residency access and all of that. And then overall, I would say this is another one of the reasons, even though not super relevant for any of these personas or any of these specific personas that is just...

days of doing business. So for example, if you want to do business in the Caribbean, you're probably, you know, it's probably a good investment for you to become a citizen in one of these countries. So you would have, you know, easier travel, easier or east ownership of assets and stuff like that. It basically is worth it for you to become a citizen if you want to do business in these countries.

Curtis Duggan (15:14.617)
Yeah, it seems like I might even phrase the question too narrowly when I said, you know, what happens when a G7 person wants to move somewhere to get into a different tax system or have their libertarian or they just want to have an interesting life. It sounds like also.

There's this concept that you mentioned of countries, maybe in Asia or other parts. We tend to think I'm North American. So we tend to think you have your passport and then you can go a lot of places, but in a lot of Asian countries, you know, if you think Pakistan, China, Russia, India, I don't know all the details, but certainly there's a lot of countries where you can't just go to France or New York.

on a vacation, you might need to get a visa as a Canadian. I expect I can just go to New York pretty easily and other places pretty easily. So it's that freedom from people that are simply wanting a better, more free passport than the one that they have.

@alexrecouso (16:12.366)
Yeah, that's one thing. And then there's also another thing that is like, you know, just being able to visit other countries without so much pressure. And I have heard this from many, you know, US citizens that travel around the world and they are, you know, if they want to visit China or if they want to visit Russia or Georgia or Belarus.

they are not going to be especially well received as US citizens. So it's the case for many of them that just decide to get one of these passports, become a citizen of a Caribbean country that doesn't have any diplomatic issues with any country in the world. And they basically can travel with peace of mind without worrying about being stopped at the border and stuff like that.

Curtis Duggan (16:40.311)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (17:07.726)
I was going to mention another thing that I lost it. But you were saying about the Asian countries.

Curtis Duggan (17:07.993)
It seems like, yeah, yeah, go ahead, go ahead.

Curtis Duggan (17:19.385)
Well, I just, I know that, you know, for instance, if you're from Pakistan or India, it's not as easy to get to certain countries than if you're from Canada.

@alexrecouso (17:23.342)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (17:27.95)
Right, right. That's the visa free access. The other thing was the perceived access of certain passports. And then the third thing is kind of having like a Plan B and a backup plan. And this is also huge for especially North Americans that those markets are quite used to insurance products. And you buy insurance on your house, you buy insurance on your car, you buy medical insurance. And...

many people from these locations are really doing it as a backup plan, as an insurance, basically against their governments. But you can also think of it as having access to a safe haven where you can go in case something goes wrong in your place of residence or the place where you were born. And you really want to have a second option to go to a safe place where you can be physically safe.

And this is the case for locations like Caribbean or even Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Even if things go really bad in the West, you could always go to mostly this Caribbean or even like Vanuatu, it's in the middle of the Pacific. So you would be basically kind of chilling there.

Curtis Duggan (18:44.409)
So I think I heard about these kinds of programs 10 or 15 years ago. Is there anything happening this decade since 2020 in the 20s? Are the number of programs expanding? I've heard they might be getting more expensive. How is the size and variation and availability of citizen by investment programs growing or shrinking or changing right now?

@alexrecouso (19:06.654)
Yeah, that's a great question. It's very controversial because it really depends who you ask.

So basically four contexts, these programs were created in the 90s mostly. Some of them, well, the first one was Sankey and Sanivis in 1984, but then most of them were created throughout those decades, early 2000s, mostly by law firms and consultancies that were consulting these governments directly to create these programs.

And basically nothing meaningful happened with this program in the last decades. But I would say now, especially since COVID, since 2020, this program got like a, you know, basically like a rebirth.

and the interest started growing right now. The interest for these programs is at all time highs and you can look that up on Google Trends. More people are searching for citizenship by investment now than ever. And in terms of, you know,

Creation of programs, we have seen programs being created, especially the one in El Salvador, that one was great because it was created in direct partnership with a crypto firm with Tether that basically has a stable coin and they do infrastructure for different projects. They have several private -public partnerships and this one was great to see. Then we have also seen the Palau one.

@alexrecouso (20:37.504)
not a citizenship program, it's a residency program, more like a residency, more like Estonia, but I would say those three are the most meaningful, you know, kind of newcomers to the industry and I think they're great because they have, you know, kind of established some, some...

kind of first steps into the government's partnering directly with private companies. And I think that's the way to go. The only thing that I'm missing from these programs and that we are looking to bring into the industry during this decade, it's kind of the interoperability and the network effects. Because these programs are great, you can get a Palau residency, you can get Stonia residency, you can become a citizen in El Salvador, but...

After that, your citizen profile is kind of locked into that country and you can't really easily, for example, incorporate a company in the UAE and get residency there with that same kind of citizen profile. And that's kind of the new thing that we're trying to build and kind of connecting all of these programs. So it is...

easier for people to after they become citizens in one place and get residents in another place incorporate a company in another one. I would say that the other interesting development that we are seeing in the industry is the adoption of cryptocurrencies. I think, you we are obviously not there yet. I think.

Curtis Duggan (22:07.577)
You mean that countries might accept cryptocurrencies as the payment for the citizenship by investment?

@alexrecouso (22:13.614)
Yeah, right. And I would say that would be the next unlock to the industry and kind of, you know, the one innovation, let's say, that would help the industry 10x because...

One of the biggest challenges with the industry as it is right now is the financial rates, right? Because, you know, the entire industry depends on banks that require their own due diligence and all of that. And it is quite annoying, you know, for people who are doing this citizenship by investment programs for applicants. It is quite annoying to basically get their capital to these places. Whereas we have crypto that is, you know, totally new system that allows borderless, permissionless payments.

So it is perfect for stuff like this. And we have seen it in El Salvador. El Salvador is accepting crypto directly for their citizenship program. And we believe that this would be massive, not only for applicants, but also for countries that decide to accept crypto directly for citizenship or as contributions to the country in order to become a citizen. Because we believe that this would allow countries to basically build a treasury of crypto that otherwise they would need to

purchase or request debt to purchase and in this way they can just you know issue more citizenships or basically help people become allow people to become citizens in their in their countries in exchange of contributions in the form of cryptocurrency.

Curtis Duggan (23:50.745)
certain countries that you see as being the most popular? Are there any trends around the best national destinations for citizenship by investment?

@alexrecouso (24:01.016)
That's a very difficult question because it really depends on what the person is looking for and where they're coming from. So for the ones that are looking for visa -free access, they focus on the countries that have the best visa -free access. The best one is Malta, so people who can afford it and...

Curtis Duggan (24:10.071)
Right.

@alexrecouso (24:21.806)
they can invest $1 million plus in their citizenship. They decide to go with Malta. Then, you know, the ones that choose the Caribbean, they usually look for the places that have the best visa -free access. That is either Sankitsa and Nibis or Antigua and Barbuda. Then also, you know, Grenada and San Lucia have great visa -free access. And then, you know, for people that just care, for example, about, you know, having a...

a safe haven where they can go. Maybe they decide to do Vanuatu. It's also the fastest one. So for people that really need their new passport as soon as possible, maybe they have a conference that they need to attend or a meeting that they need to take in person and they just need a second passport fast in a matter of a couple of weeks or a couple of months. And they decide to get the Vanuatu one that is the fastest one. And then in terms of crypto adoption, I think...

You know, there are some governments that have been taking steps in the right direction. Like I was saying, El Salvador is the best example. I think they have done everything right when it comes to crypto adoption. But also some of these countries that we are working with in the Caribbean, they have started to accept kind of crypto statements as proof of wealth and proof of funds. And we believe that that's a great first step because it allows people to apply without having to sell their crypto. And once they know they are accepted into the

the program and they have to make the contribution or the investment, they can turn that crypto into fiat, but they're not assuming that kind of upfront risk without knowing whether they're going to be accepted. And I would say in terms of those, I think Antigua, Barbuda and Grenada are the ones that have been taking the...

the biggest steps in that direction. But the thing that I would love to see is them just accepting crypto directly and not relying on the traditional banking system.

Curtis Duggan (26:26.041)
Yeah, yeah, it seems like this is a service mostly for wealthy people or almost entirely for wealthy people with six or seven figure price tags on the actual investment and then maybe your fee is five figures. Do you ever see this being something, the prices seem to be going up or like we're raising the price. Do you ever see something like this as becoming accessible to a middle class person who saves more like.

10 to 30 grand, you know, a car or a down payment on a condo or a house level of payment as opposed to some of the payments now which are hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get in.

@alexrecouso (27:07.854)
Well, I would say first of all, I don't think it's that expensive. So, you know, it is a big amount of capital, but when you really take into consideration what it means, I don't think it's that expensive because people, you know, have been investing those amounts of capital in real estate.

Curtis Duggan (27:30.649)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (27:30.958)
And in the end, I would say it's something on par with that or even more important because real estate is tied to one location, whereas this gives you opportunities in many places. And in many cases, when you are investing into real estate and you are deciding to purchase a house somewhere, you depend on that government and you are assuming that extra risk. So...

That's why I think it's not that expensive. And you would be surprised that it's not just for wealthy people because there are many people in countries from Africa, Asia, India, many places who are really limited by their passport. And for them, making an investment like this is way more significant than buying a house or buying a car.

So for them, if you ask them, it's not that much for what it really means. And then when it comes to the price increases, they're definitely going to happen. Also, if you think about it, if you discount inflation, most of these countries haven't updated the prices in years, if not decades. I would have to check this out, but most of the programs, I believe, haven't updated their prices in a

really long time. So if you take into account the inflation and all of that, really the increases that are going to happen are just, you know, kind of adjusting their prices to inflation. But it's really interesting the price increases that are going to happen. Basically last week, Sankhya Tsanibis and Tigan Barbuda

Dominica and Grenada signed a memorandum saying that they will update their minimum contribution threshold to $200 ,000. And this would leave Saint Lucia as the only Caribbean citizenship by investment that is below the 200 ,000 mark. And this is gonna be interesting because then you only have Saint Lucia in the Caribbean and you only have Vanuatu as kind of more accessible programs. So it will be really interesting to see the impact.

@alexrecouso (29:41.968)
on the demand for these two citizenships. And then what I really see, you know, going downstream the market and making it really accessible to many more people is, you know, not just the citizenship programs that in the end is something, you know, that is...

kind of giving you a lot of opportunities, really valuable. But also, you know, the golden, the golden residence, the golden visas, tax residences and company incorporations. And also one last note when it comes to the pricing, like, you know, most of these programs that are the most valuable ones are the ones that have the kind of the higher capital contributions. But there are other programs that are not as well known, like Pakistan, for example, has a program that allows Commonwealth citizens to become citizens of Pakistan for I believe,

it's $18 ,000. So it's not really that expensive, but also the value of a Pakistani passport is way lower. So that's why they know that they can charge way less for this citizenship.

Curtis Duggan (30:42.809)
When you say the value of a passport, do you value that mostly by the number of visa -free countries it allows you to access, or is there some other value? How do you value the value of a passport?

@alexrecouso (30:53.71)
Yeah, there are many metrics and this is also an interesting topic because there are a couple of websites like Passport Index and several indexes that have been trying to kind of run passports. And the metric that they focus on is Visa Free Access because it's kind of the most, sorry.

The most measurable one is really objective. Hey, how many countries does this passport give me access to? But I believe that there are other metrics that you should take into account and haven't been taking into account really. Like for example, the safety of the country. Like...

If I'm a citizen of a country, I want to feel safe there. So for example, El Salvador would rank right now super high on that. So I believe that's valuable, you know, and I believe it's valuable to have a passport that...

gives you settlement rights in places that are safe. Also, I would say the tax friendliness is one of those because, you know, if you are really moving to that place and you are setting up your tax residency there, I believe that also has some value and that even has, you know, a monetary value that will depend on, you know, the amount that you would pay in taxes, but it can also be measured. So, and, you know, talking about this, we could get into the thing that different passports have different value for different

people. For example, if I'm paying a lot of money in taxes, then being able to set up my tax residency in a tax -friendly jurisdiction is super valuable for me, but maybe it's not that valuable for someone else. So there are many things that depend on the for whom of the passport and its value, but I would say generally those are the ones that I like to look at.

Curtis Duggan (32:44.473)
Yeah, it's funny as you're talking, I was thinking about different passports and an interesting country. I'm not sure actually, maybe I'll ask you, Montenegro where Zuzalu was last year, is that somewhere that has a citizenship by investment program? Because I know it's not in the EU. Is Montenegro on the list?

@alexrecouso (33:06.574)
It used to have one, they stopped it. Yes, they closed it. And there are a bunch of countries that close their citizenship programs. Cyprus was another one of those. And the Montenegro case is really interesting because they closed their program around, I think it was by the end of 2020.

Curtis Duggan (33:08.601)
Oh, used to.

Curtis Duggan (33:18.905)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (33:30.798)
two and in 2023 they processed the backlog of applications that they had but they didn't take any new applications in 2023 already. The thing with Montenegro is that...

Curtis Duggan (33:40.377)
Is that from a political backlash? Is that because of certain the citizens or residents voters in a certain area say we don't like this anymore. Too many people are getting a deal to come here. That kind of thing.

@alexrecouso (33:52.27)
Yeah, I believe it was not so much that, but two things which actually make sense. The first one is that the EU doesn't like citizenship by investment. They have been pressuring Malta to stop their program. So obviously, if Montenegro wants to join the EU, it's kind of a nice thing to do to kind of gain points to joining the EU. So that's one of the reasons. And then the second reason that I believe that is the one that makes the most sense is that Montenegro is a very

Curtis Duggan (34:06.199)
Mm -hmm.

Curtis Duggan (34:11.703)
Yeah.

@alexrecouso (34:22.244)
small country they have like 500 ,000 citizens so

And during the last year of the program, I believe that 50 ,000 Russians moved to Montenegro. So if you think about it, this program could be a great way for Montenegro to kind of dilute their population. Because like I was saying, for many of these Caribbean countries, Pacific countries, not many people actually moved there. But for Montenegro, so many new people were moving there that...

Curtis Duggan (34:35.787)
I see.

@alexrecouso (34:54.446)
They actually got scared and with good reason because taking into account the history in the Balkans and all of that, Montenegro is one of the newest countries in the world. They have a...

special relationship with Serbia too. So I would understand why, why, you know, they were not so kind of pleased about this, but in economic terms, it was a total success. Actually, if you go around Tibet and the area of Porto Montenegro, you see all the new developments on the real estate that was built with the, with the citizenship by investment program. So in economic terms, it was a success. The thing is that, you know, you have to take into account the

peculiarities of the country and the population and you know, maybe it makes sense for them to stop it for some time and then you know activate it again later But I would say you know in my in my humble opinion

what they should be trying to do is kind of boost the local population, right? And, you know, kind of encourage the population to have more children and all of that, and not so much stop the immigration. And I believe this applies to, you know, most of the Western world, but that's another topic.

Curtis Duggan (36:03.673)
Yeah, yeah, the the natalism movement that we're not having enough babies, we need to have more babies, which should be something that everybody finds like a fun activity to do. And yet we're not doing it enough. Speaking of Montenegro, I and Zuzalu and I, if people are saying what's Zuzalu? What are you what are you talking about? I would encourage people to go listen to our first episode from last year, where we get into Zuzalu for like 20 or 30 minutes. So I won't.

@alexrecouso (36:09.614)
Yeah.

Curtis Duggan (36:30.817)
rehash it, but it was an event last year that was what was called a pop up city. I saw on X that there was kind of these, oh, one year, maybe you've been tweeted something or X posted something saying, Zuzalu one year anniversary, great memories. Do you know, is there a reason why it's not annual? Have you heard anything? Is it just one time ever or is that, is Zuzalu going to continue in some form? I was just surprised that there wasn't like.

Yeah, you know, anniversary year two, the same thing.

@alexrecouso (37:02.702)
Yet to be honest, I haven't been really on top of it because I have been distracted with other things. But right, the first one happened like around one year ago. And I believe the original intention was to do it at least annually or every some months. I know they did another kind of pop up in Istanbul during...

Curtis Duggan (37:07.201)
Yeah.

Curtis Duggan (37:14.999)
Yeah.

@alexrecouso (37:30.382)
I believe it was HCC, I'm not sure. But they did another one in Istanbul around September, October. I couldn't attend that one. I was in the Caribbean meeting with these governments by then. But I know the initial plan that they had was to repeat it, but I haven't really been on top of things. I don't know why they decided not to repeat it. I know they have been...

like spin -offs from the original Sousalu, so they did one in Prospera in Honduras about longevity and the guys that were involved in the first one, mostly the people that attended decided to do kind of thematic versions of Sousalu but I'm not sure if they are going to ever do it again. I hope so because it was great.

Curtis Duggan (38:06.957)
Mm -hmm.

Curtis Duggan (38:21.687)
Mm -hmm.

Curtis Duggan (38:26.425)
Yeah.

Well, speaking of Prospera and Honduras, I'm sure that for Citizen X, your main opportunity right now is with real countries and real nations that actually exist and have passports. But there's a lot of, I would say, I don't think it's mainstream yet, but there is niche buzz and it's big buzz around the concept of the network state, which you have a namesake of in your holding company. And Prospera and Honduras is a...

Some might say a network state, but I would say kind of more practically. It's a new economic zone If I'm gonna be boring about it, I'm not the one pitching it they'll pitch it differently but if I'm gonna be kind of boring about it, it's simply a free trade and more deregulated economic zone within the existing real country of Honduras and of course the people who are pushing that project forward who we've talked to and and sort of pioneering that project Have all kinds of ideas for

Pursuing longevity at the Talia the pop -up city And you know, there's there's detractors as well. Some of the local politicians say hey, this is gentrification. This is bringing in colonialists that are pushing out the locals and so There's every no, it's a let's just say it's an emerging movement. I don't know that many examples around the world I think there are theoretical examples, but I'm just curious I'm sure that you have this as sort of a passion and an interest

But is there any actual business opportunity for CitizenX in these emerging zones? Or is it more important just to engage with the real existing countries?

@alexrecouso (40:04.43)
I mean, first of all, I think there's a very important distinction to be made. And I think you explained it really well. That is that, you know, for example, Prospera with their special economic song within the country of Honduras, it's kind of a project that has achieved actually something real and some real benefits. And then you have, you know, a bunch of kind of network estate projects that are nothing more than, you know, basically...

Discord communities and I think this is a very important decision to be made. We have actually, you know, talked with some people from Prospera because they were interested into including, you know, this offering as part of CitizenX. The thing is right now we are focused on the citizenship by investment, but as soon as we get into, you know, residencies and all of that, we would be more than pleased to have, you know, special economic zones where people can make some actual tax benefits and some real world benefits. And the thing is,

Curtis Duggan (40:33.975)
Yeah.

@alexrecouso (41:01.856)
The thing is that, even though it's kind of boring or it sounds more boring that...

fantasizing about getting sovereignty and becoming an actual country. I think it's way more practical in the approach that they have taken. It's great in terms of Prospera. You have seen this already, you know, in the UAE with their free traded songs. Even, you know, in the Caribbean, I was surprised when I visited and we met with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ministry of Tourism of Antigua and Barbuda. And they explained us that Antigua and Barbuda actually already has.

special economic souls. So you know this nothing new. The thing that we should innovate in is kind of...

first aligning incentives and that will help these special economic zones to actually market themselves as products. I believe that we are taking kind of, you know, a step into that direction with with CitizenX because we are kind of making these countries compete for someone who wants to become a citizen somewhere else and they can check all of these options that they have. I believe the next step is to do that also, you know, for residences, for special economic zones, company corporations and all of that. And I believe that kind of having

this liquid market of capital, because if you basically nail the benefits that people are looking for, you will unlock all of these investments into your country. And I really like that approach to special economic songs. And I believe there's a lot that we can do, basically working closely with them. And that's kind of...

Curtis Duggan (42:21.113)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (42:43.512)
the direction of our company and the direction of our vision is that, hey, we're starting with a citizenship by investment. We want to do other governance products. But eventually, since we are developing these relationships with governments that are attracting investment, that are attracting capital, we would be super excited to also experiment with maybe establishing a special economic zones in partnership with these governments.

Curtis Duggan (43:10.713)
Yeah, I wonder, not even related to CitizenX per se, but just in general, philosophically, you mentioned it, I think I can dive deeper and give my opinion, but you mentioned that there are a lot of network state projects that are just Discord groups or they're communities, but they're not really a physical place yet. And so I wonder sometimes whether when we think of Bology's ideal of a network state,

Is it actually going to come from startups? Like is, is praxis actually going to become a real city faster than say an existing place like El Salvador or Dubai or Singapore or Montenegro, uh, innovates and changes itself to, to have more, uh, deregulation crypto, you know, to, to, to work towards something. I don't know if it's going to be those countries I mentioned, but is it actually that a new country will come first?

Or will it just be that an existing country gets a president or prime minister or dictator who says, we're going to go in this direction. We already have a country. Sometimes when I, you know, the years go by, I remember reading about some of the network States like praxis probably when the pandemic was happening. So maybe that's four years ago and there are some nice pictures and I'm sure the community is very lively and there's lots of hype, but.

I don't know, like there's no city I can go to and I don't feel like maybe it's just because I'm older. Like if I was 20, I'd be excited, but I'm older. So I'm like, if there's no city I can go to right now, you know, it's 10 years away. I don't care. You know, like as, as much as long -term thinking is good, but if it's 10 years away, I don't really care. Um, I'm too old for that. I got to think about what's here and now. So I just wonder if they're like where it's going to come from. And I, I, a year or two ago, I was hyped and I thought, yeah, they're going to build a bunch of new.

@alexrecouso (44:50.638)
Hmm.

Curtis Duggan (44:58.425)
fully sovereign network states. Now I start to think maybe Dubai and Abu Dhabi will innovate when, you know, some other country will innovate into that faster than a startup will do it. So I don't know what you think.

@alexrecouso (45:13.006)
So I don't know where it's going to come from. I'm pretty bearish on it coming from getting actual sovereignty. Just because, you know, if we look at history, we have stuff like Liberland that has been fighting for sovereignty for four years now, and they haven't really, you know.

they haven't been able to kind of get recognized. Yeah, they haven't made it yet. So that's why I'm not that sure about getting full sovereignty. And I think what I'm, or one of the ways that I could see this happening is basically starting a special economic zones. Because you don't really need full sovereignty, especially for a network state that the entire concept.

Curtis Duggan (45:40.857)
They didn't make it. Yeah. Yeah.

@alexrecouso (46:06.542)
floats around a core idea. So in order to materialize that core idea, you don't need full sovereignty. You don't need a new passport, a new country to make a network state about longevity. Like you could just get sovereignty over those laws that you care about in order to basically push for longevity, but you don't need full sovereignty. So that's why I'm more bullish on projects that are trying to establish special economic songs. I think Prospera...

Curtis Duggan (46:24.407)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (46:35.406)
is great. The only thing is that, you know, the bigger risk that you have with this approach is to tie yourself too much to just one country. And that's kind of, you know, the issues that we have seen with Prospera is that they are tied to Honduras. They have no leverage to negotiate with them because they're basically not going to go anywhere else. So I believe that's the biggest risk. I also believe there are ways to mitigate it. But also, I don't know, you know, from from where it's going to come from.

Curtis Duggan (46:46.817)
Mm -hmm.

@alexrecouso (47:04.654)
I don't think...

Well, I think that some countries, especially not democracies, have been able to iterate quite fast because basically, you know, they have totalitarian control, so they can iterate fast over over new governance offerings. I think that's not necessarily bad. I think the good thing is, you know, just experimenting with new models and finding models that work better than the ones that we currently have. I think the UAE works great. I think Singapore works great. I also think that we can...

find something that works even better. And I think that's where startups come into play and I think where things can really get interesting.

Curtis Duggan (47:47.673)
Yeah, well, it'll be interesting to see where it comes from. I mean, maybe there's some black swan events that we can't predict like a revolution or insurrection that somehow, you know, through violent means carves off a piece of land and starts a new country. That's usually, unfortunately, how countries are made over the last three or 400 years. I think we all, I think most people agree that...

Well, maybe not everyone agrees, but most people in the normal liberal democratic way of thinking think that we shouldn't, you know, use violence to change borders anymore. We're in a world where we're working towards the peace around that. Maybe, you know, in some cases, of course, people will disagree with that. But it's hard to see where new land is going to be created or, you know, new sovereignty can be created.

So I almost think that it's kind of like you mentioned how Prospera is in a certain leverage or a certain negotiating position with Honduras. Maybe a, like Balaji sometimes says, a state that exists in six or seven places and has like the same economic zone where there's some anti -fragility where one country decides to ban them, but the existence of the network state can continue.

almost like certain clubs or churches or religions have done over the thousands of years where if they're banned or exiled from one place, the community exists around the world. You could see that with Judaism, Catholicism, and even CrossFit. There are places where if it gets banned somewhere, you can still do it somewhere else. But Alex, yeah, it's been great.

@alexrecouso (49:28.526)
Yeah.

Curtis Duggan (49:34.329)
I think we're coming up on time. It's been great to check in with you. Where can people find more about you and CitizenX if they're looking for you on the internet?

@alexrecouso (49:43.246)
So people can find me mostly on Twitter, that's the place I'm the most active. It's at Alex Rocoso on Twitter and then CITIZENX. Add CITIZENX everywhere except Instagram, we don't have that handle yet and citizenex .com.

Curtis Duggan (49:57.261)
Yeah. Okay. We'll add that to the show notes and Alex, it's been great. Thanks for coming back on and it's good to check in with you and I'm excited about CitizenX this year. I'll have to start saving up my MRR to maybe invest in CitizenX citizenship in 2025. So it's great to check in with you.

@alexrecouso (50:18.382)
Thank you very much Curtis, it's always a pleasure to chat with you.