Latin American nations are very familiar with economic crises and outrageous currency inflation episodes. There is no country in South America, that is more familiar with these unfortunate events than Argentina. For the past several decades, Argentina’s government has done everything in its power to prop up the peso, by making dollars difficult to obtain. Argentinian citizens have been accustomed to shun the peso, and have relied primarily on whatever supply of dollars is available through official or black market channels. In 1989, during the last months of the presidency of Raúl Alfonsín, Argentina experienced a 5,000% annual inflation rate, which resulted in food shortages and rampant protests and riots. The painful memories of these events have been very deeply etched in the minds of Argentine citizens – and this is precisely why digital currencies such as bitcoin, are thriving in Argentina. Buenos Aires and the surrounding regions are home to more than 100 bitcoin-related businesses, according to data shown on Coinmap.org.
US-based venture capital investors have taken a keen interest in digital currency startups in Argentina, over the past two years. In June of 2014, BitPagos successfully raised $600,000 in seed funding from some of America’s most prominent VC investors; Pantera Capital; Tim Draper of Boost VC; Barry Silbert of Greyscale Investments. BitPagos, an Argentine digital payment processor, offers clients the ability to convert their pesos into bitcoin and vise-versa.
BitPagos has experienced very promising results in fiat-to-bitcoin transactions in its first few months of operation, processing close to $150,000 in volume on a monthly basis. Payment processors such as BitPagos: finally give the the average citizen a fighting chance against the destructive tendencies of fiat currencies. In August of 2014, BitPagos also launched its Ripio platform, a service that allows consumers in Argentina to purchase small amounts of bitcoin at convenience stores. The Ripio platform integrates with TeleRecargas, a mobile phone service allowing clients to top-up their cell phone credits at locations across Argentina. BitPagos’s Ripio platform, not only provides a venue for existing bitcoiners in Argentina to conduct business, but also provides a platform for individuals to engage in bitcoin transactions, who are not able to access the existing financial system.
“Use of Bitcoin presents a great financial advantage for the region as it allows the unbanked to make immediate transactions over the Internet, using any device with network access.”
BitPagos was so successful in Argentina, that the company decided to expand to other Latin American nations. In December of 2014, BitPagos announced the expansion of the Ripio platform into Brazil, allowing Brazilian consumers the ability to purchase bitcoin via bank slip.
“Buying bitcoins from Ripio is simple. After entering the site Ripio.com you must create a user, which will create a Bitcoin wallet, and tell the system how many coins you wish to buy, so a ballot payment slip is generated, which is easily exchangeable at bank outlets where the ballots are accepted.”
Currency instability and costly remittance services in Latin America, have created the perfect environment for digital currency technology to thrive. The success of BitPagos in Argentina and Brazil, is a testament to this fact.
Image source: https://ripio.com/ , https://www.bitpagos.com/en/ , http://Coinmap.org
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