A research by Matt Alhborg, a data-scientist and researcher at dlab.vc during a black-out in Venezuela reveals how Venezuela dominates the crypto scene is South America. It also suggests that Bitcoin is primarily used as a ‘bridge currency’ between US Dollar and the local currencies.
The electricity black-out occurred on 7th March with which economic activity across the country came to a halt for several days. In the midst of this incident, Alhborg observes a drastic drop in the Bitcoin and crypto trading volume in Venezuela which is quite obvious.
However, it is also seen that along with Venezuela, the drop was startlingly equivalent in other Latin American countries as well. It reciprocates with Argentinian, Chilean, and Mexican peso along with the Peruvian sol. It shows the dominance of Venezuela in the continent when it comes to cryptocurrency trading.
Hence, he notes that Bitcoin is acting as a vehicle currency across South America.
Dollarizing Latin America
Most Latin currencies, especially Argentinian Peso and the Venezuelan Bolivar, suffer from hyperinflation. Hence, $10 worth income today could become equivalent to $5 in a month’s, over even a weeks time. Hence, holding savings in Bolivar is impractical.
While one might think that Bitcoin is the choice for Store of Value (SoV), it is actually the US dollar, Chinese Yuan and other stable FIAT currencies in high demand.
Venezuela isn’t ‘Bitcoinizing’. It’s ok to admit that. Bitcoin is mostly a wholesale network used by sophisticated brokers to facilitate the flow of foreign currency into the country, with dollars being highly demanded.
It’s dollarizing via Bitcoin.
The foreign exchange rate in these countries are tremendously high for feasible operations of money transmitter businesses. Hence, the locals have to resort to informal sites like localbitcoin.com to convert from Bitcoin to Bolivar and vice-versa.
This is again used to exchange to other currencies across the continent. It has helped in the seamless remittance from other Latin American countries and developed countries by the Venezuelan workers.
Furthermore, he also notes that with progressive economic changes in the country, the volume of Bitcoin trading is decreasing. Alhborg notes,
In concert with this change in circumstances on the ground in Venezuela, there has also been a gradual reduction in Bitcoin-bolivar trading on LocalBitcoins.
When do you think Bitcoin will start acting as a real Store of Value (SoV) across the world? Please share your views with us.
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Nivesh from Engineering Background is a full-time Crypto Analyst at Coingape. He is an atheist who believes in love and cultural diversity. He believes that Cryptocurrency is a necessity to deter corruption. He holds small amounts of cryptocurrencies. Faith and fear are two sides of the same coin. Follow him on Twitter at @nivishoes or mail him at nivesh(at)coingape.com