Countries like Venezuela and Colombia often grab the headlines for the wrong reasons. When it comes to meaningful adoption of new technology, the story is somehow less salient than economic chaos, criminal bands, and political turmoil.
Peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading
Peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading has recently been experiencing new all-time highs in the region. Last week, trading on LocalBitcoins skyrocketed in Venezuela, with users paying a $700 premium in some cases.
In Argentina, Bitcoin trading also saw another significant spike from just over 21m Argentine pesos to nearly 30m. This wasn’t enough to topple its all-time high from December when a series of measures to further restrict access to foreign currency were announced. But it still highlights the growth and relevance of Bitcoin in the country.
Bitcoin in Latin America is gaining traction from north to south, in fact. Trading volumes on LocalBitcoins also increased in other countries across the region, including Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.
Venezuela pushing harder with Petro
Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro once again vowed to make the controversial Petro a success. Even while Biopago (the Petro’s payment system) temporarily suspended its services to the public, Maduro insisted that all state services will be priced and paid in Petros.
He also demanded that airlines operating in the country buy their fuel in Petro cryptocurrency. However, given the Petro’s dubious history, this may not be a smart move.
In fact, some buyers of Venezuelan crude oil have already stopped dealing with the South American nation after officials started demanding payment of port fees in Petros.
Paraguayan travel agency adopts Bitcoin
There was another interesting development last week for Bitcoin in Latin America. In Paraguay, travel agency Alto Vuelo Viajes became the first of its kind in the country to offer payments with cryptocurrencies.
This will be enabled by Paraguayan cryptocurrency exchange Cripex, who made the announcement on Twitter last Wednesday.
1ra. Agencia de Viajes en aceptar bitcoin en Paraguay 🇵🇾 Alianza Cripex / Alto Vuelo Viajes
San Roque Gonzalez de Santacruz y Campos Cervera, Asuncion
☎️ 021 328-3000📱 0974328300
Info@altovuelo.com.py @ABCDigital @UltimaHoracom @LaNacionPy @5diasPY pic.twitter.com/WkblxVVXa8
— Cripex S.A. (@Cripex_py) January 15, 2020
The integration of the two companies means that Alto Vuelo Viajes’ clients will be able to purchase national and international air tickets and tourism packages with cryptocurrencies.
Cripex was founded in 2017 and was the first cryptocurrency exchange in Paraguay. Through its platform, users can trade some of the main crypto assets, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP), and Litecoin (LTC).
Colombia to invest in blockchain
At the same time as Bitcoin was gaining traction in Latin America, blockchain also made the news. In Colombia, a new government initiative called SofisTICA will invest around $6m to boost the adoption of blockchain technology in the country.
The new programme is supported by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies (MinTIC) of Colombia in conjunction with Colombia Productiva from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism.
The objective is to encourage the productivity and efficiency of small, medium, and large companies from traditional sectors through the implementation of technological solutions.
According to Colombia Productiva, the funding will also help to strengthen the competitiveness of software, IT, and e-commerce companies in Colombia. The plan is to finance between 10 to 20 national projects that have until February 14 to submit their applications.
Cryptocurrency incentives for recycling plastic in Uruguay
There were additional developments for cryptocurrencies in Latin America from Uruguay last week. One Uruguayan start-up is carrying out a programme to recycle plastics with the support of the National Development Agency (ANDE).
The initiative will start this summer in the Uruguayan region of Piriápolis and will use its own own virtual currency called Plasticoin. The project is currently in its pilot phase and has some 15 companies and 600 people taking part. The value of Plasticoin is tied to the number of kilos of recycled plastic waste.
The objective of the project is to stimulate the classification and disposal of plastic waste in collection centres through a reward programme in Plasticoin. Those who enrol may then use the currency to access certain retail products, food, and even surf lessons.
Wrapping it up
China and the US may be at the centre of the news when it comes to blockchain technology. But while one country goes all-in on blockchain and the other sits on the fence, other countries are quietly making moves.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.