Bitcoin popularity soars in crisis-hit Venezuela
The nation's economic and financial demise has made Bitcoin a save haven for families
by Abi Moses on 20th March, 2017
Controversial cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has seen a surge in users in Venezuela as the country's own currency, the Bolivar continues to struggle amidst an economic crisis in the South American country.
Despite Bitcoin being an infamously volatile currency, it is in fact more stable than the Venezuelan Bolivar, prompting a rise in users from 450 in 2014 to 85,000 in 2016. Kevin Charles, CEO of claimed "Even though Bitcoin is volatile it is still safer than the national currency."
As a result of Venezuela's economic and financial demise, residents are struggling from strict capital controls and hyperinflation rates, with families turning to Bitcoin to simply feed their families.
Bitcoin offers Venezuelans the opportunity to buy essential goods but also resist the unpopular Government, led by President Nicolas Maduro.
With the Venezuelan Bolivar flagging, residents started to turn to US Dollars or safe havens like gold, with people choosing to cross international borders to stock up on goods, with others trading on the black market where US Dollars tend to be the accepted currency.
Border controls ensured the inflows and outflows of Dollars and gold were heavily restricted and so the Bitcoin boom began. One Venezuelan national said "At the end of the day Bitcoin has been a lifesaver for Venezuelans like me, trying to preserve the effort of our work, and an alternative to our regulated financial system, which gives people that decides to keep living in this beautiful country to continue struggling to survive without giving up and pushing forward our homeland."
Unfortunately the Venezuelan Government are now turning their attention to Bitcoin users and producers. Miners have been jailed after being accused of terrorism, money laundering and computer crimes.
The authorities' crackdown could spell the end of Bitcoin's increasing momentum in the Caribbean country, whilst growing discontent towards to Government could help the cyber-currency's market share grow further.
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