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Argentina Goes With Bitcoin to Settle Export Deal

Argentina Goes With Bitcoin To Settle Export Deal

Argentina has made history by recently completing an export deal with South American neighbor Paraguay using Bitcoin as payment.

The export of pesticides and fumigation products has set an example for others in the region, showing that cryptocurrency has the potential to act as a credible form of payment at the international trade level as well as between individual users.

Although a small total in terms of export values, still the move is significant, illustrating the simplicity of the process of paying using a cryptocurrency and then converting to local currency. Argentina utilized Bitex – a Latin American financial service provider that supports Bitcoin payments- to facilitate the deal made under the Esporta Simple programme which facilitates small deals of less than USD 15,000.

This was not the first time Bitex crypto project involved the Argentinean Banco Masventas. Last year, the bank had announced the creation of a SWIFT interbank alternative, using Bitex to provide support for BTC transactions.

Paraguay itself has seen some serious activity on the cryptocurrency front since the end of 2018, following a new partnership with local Bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer Bitfury and Commons Foundation, a South Korean peer-to-peer knowledge commons research firm. The project will see the launch of several mining facilities in Paraguay.

Under the project, a remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is to develop its own crypto mining subculture, thanks to the world’s largest dam, the Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam – the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world.

It appears Itapúa is finally going to create the regeneration many have been calling for as Paraguay’s government has revealed plans to put into action, the “Golden Goose” – a project which will see the construction of five mining centers on 50 square kilometers near the tourist border town of Ciudad del Este.

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New Yorkers Can Now Buy Bitcoin at ATMs With Debit Cards

New Yorkers Can Now Buy Bitcoin at ATMs With Debit Cards

With cryptocurrency ATMs on the rise around the world with machines globally passing the 4,000 total at a rate of five installations a day, both New York and Chicago are showing continued US dominance in the sector.

New York now offers customers the opportunity to purchase Bitcoin using a regular credit card at machines supplied by ATM provider LibertyX. The company now has selected ATMs across the city able to provide the new service. It has been installing crypto ATMs across the US since its first opened in Boston in 2014, later providing campus machines at Harvard and MIT.

The debit card ATMs having been finding homes across the US since last year, but have only just come to New York City having just gained approval from New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS).

A customer can use one of the new ATM debit card facilities by simply downloading a LibertyX mobile app and then registering their account. Once done, users have access to Bitcoin withdrawals to the tune of USD 3,000 a day by using their debit card. The move is hoped to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency ATMs by illustrating the ease of access to crypto funds.

The windy city has no plans to be left behind, and Chicago is currently undergoing its own battle of the ATMs with many providers vying for trade. The latest provider to hit town is Atlanta-based Lux Vending which has now added 30 of its own machines already across the Chicago area this year, taking its total in the city to 200.

Other companies in the race for planting their machines across the nation include home-based Red Leaf Chicago, who, apart from having 60 machines across the city, has another 120 machines across 21 states, including Iowa, New Jersey, Florida, and California. Another Chicago-based company has gone worldwide choosing to place its ATMs internationally, with only three in Chicago. With 65 machines across the US, it has found many of its 100 remaining machines doing huge business in Colombia and Argentina, a trade which could increase dramatically given the current economic and political unrest in the region.

 

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The Golden Goose’s Bitcoin Egg: World’s Largest Mining Farm in Paraguay

The makeshift mining industry which has grown around Paraguay’s Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam near the borders of Argentina and Brazil is to become official with a new plan to build the world’s largest mining farm in the region.

Bitcoin News recently reported that a growing group of crypto miners had created their own business in the region with an estimated 20,000 units generating Bitcoin and Ether. Many of the miners setting up business in the region have become millionaires, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

The potential for the dam to change lives for the better through providing power for cryptocurrency mining hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Paraguayan government, with the potential for mining to fund the countries hospitals, schools, and railways as well as to revive the local economy.

It appears Itapúa is finally going to create the regeneration many have been calling for as the government has revealed plans to put into action “Golden Goose”, a project which will see the construction of five mining centers on 50 square kilometers near the tourist town of Ciudad del Este.

The Golden Goose project is part of a massive regeneration plan by Paraguay’s government bring about technological advancement through the growth of new technology and possible revision of cryptocurrency tax laws to enable the enterprise to make an impact on the country’s economy,

It was noted by Choi Yong-Kwan, Chairman of the Commons Foundation, that 10% of Itaipu’s power was used in Paraguay whereas a huge 80% was currently being exported. Thus, the dam had more than adequate power to be redirected towards the mining project.

Paraguay’s Blockchain Technology Foundation plans to raise funds for the project with a pre-sale and Initial Exchange Offering through Bitcoin, MicroBitcoin, and Ethereum. Token holders are promised 30% of the mining profits generated by the new mining center.

 

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Mais Oui C’est Crypto-Vin: Wine Trading Platforms on the Rise

Wine trading platforms are on the rise as the industry begins to acknowledge the benefits of electronic tracking and blockchain’s secure guarantee of provenance.

Wineries adapting to using blockchain for increased transparency of the product are not new within the industry. There are several wineries and retail sites now using the new tech, some including Bitcoin for wine purchases.

With fine wine, provenance is vital; it is the factor which develops trust between growers and traders. The history of a bottle or a particular vintage is key to its success and can make or break a grower if the wine doesn’t match its supposed provenance. Clearly, the very nature of blockchain and what it can offer in terms of product transparency and guaranteeing the story behind it from grape to table, has not gone unnoticed by the industry which survives to a great degree on trust.

Platforms such as the CWEX Exchange, backed by Swiss-based DotChain GMbh, are one of the many of such now appearing, adding a heightened level of guarantee to wine provenance. CWEX issues blockchain based ownership certificates with each bottle, consequently decreasing processing fees and resulting in buyers profiting from a huge 80% rise on their initial investment.

Prior to blockchain, after numerous cases of false provenance issues resulting in lawsuits and subsequent convictions of the perpetrators involving millions of dollars, companies such as Cavex and Wine Owners were launched in order to reinstate some level of trust back into the industry, although such companies were principally aimed at private investors. These companies managed to cut out third-party brokers, thereby helping eliminate the risk of fraud with peer-to-peer sales.

The most significant merchant emerging from the rise of this new way of conducting business was LiveTrade in 2009, offering its own version of a two-way platform for electronic wine trading. However, it is blockchain-based companies like CWEX that attract those who wish to have cryptocurrency holdings of real-world assets, as well as a guarantee that the wine that they purchase is the “real thing”. CWEX’s CEO argues the case:

“Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt and revolutionize all Industries. CWEX is taking a small step in the right direction to offer more flexibility and possibilities to cryptocurrency owners.”

Selling wine on the blockchain doesn’t have to be a huge enterprise, as Mike Barrow of Costaflores Organic Vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina, discovered. This year he sold 16,448 bottles at USD 4.74 per bottle after tax. It is visible on the published accounting ledger, using blockchain technology so that consumers can track the vintage from grape to bottle. Costaflores now has its own cryptocurrency token, which now trades on the open exchange. As Barrow says:

“Creating a wine-backed crypto asset is not about driving the price up to absurd levels… It’s about qualifying value and honesty in wine.”

 

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Argentinian Economy Nosedive Attracts Crypto Investors as Peso Falls

Argentina is not quite undergoing the pain of Venezuela but it’s beginning to feel the economic pressure, driving numerous investors to Bitcoin as a safe haven for their pesos.

The Argentinian economy has shrunk by 4% during the second quarter, with President Mauricio Macri’s government announcing that it expects the economy to shrink further by 2.4% this year. One of the causes of the slump has been attributed to a drought that occurred early in 2018 which severely damaged soybean and corn production.

Fausto Spotorno, Director of the Buenos Aires-based Center for Economic Studies observed that the downturn was due to crop failure, saying: “That really hurt growth in the quarter… The second quarter is when we harvest soybeans and corn, so there was a big drop in agricultural production.”

As a result, peso’s value has fallen. This has affected the morale of both investors and savers, consequently opening them up to the Bitcoin market. Economist and mathematician D.H. Taylor writes:

“Argentinians are moving in large numbers out of their peso and into a more stable currency, BTC. The numbers being witnessed by the markets in BTC are surging from Argentina,” adding that “The stability being offered by the digital currency is far greater than the peso and Argentinians are moving in quickly.”

The Argentinian government is now looking at Bitcoin with real intent as the economy begins to falter and efforts by the Central Bank have made absolutely no impact. As a result, it’s been reported that the Central bank may even be considering investing their currency reserves into Bitcoin and US dollars to gain some stability in case of a further need to devaluate the peso.

In May of this year, a massive peso selloff forced the government to seek support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), receiving a $50 billion bailout and contributions towards a public works fund as inflation continues to rise.

Meanwhile, the demand for BTC is rising with 12 ATMs scheduled for the capital Buenos Aries and plans to saturate the country with more machines, and more merchants are now accepting payments in Bitcoin.

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La Bitcoineta: Argentine Non-Profit Tackles Lack of Knowledge in Local Communities, Push for Crypto-Driven Change

As Bitcoin’s popularity and user base continue to grow, companies involved with the cryptocurrency are progressing from merely providing the infrastructure needed such as wallets and exchanges, to providing sophisticated services such as healthcare or gaming applications. With an innovative fintech sector emerging to service the cryptocurrency market, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs have begun turning their heads, offering Bitcoin ventures such as futures trading or cryptocurrency hedgefund management.

The Bitcoin market cap at the time of press stands at USD one hundred seven billion; this significant sector still lacks international understanding, trust, and mainstream accessibility. A group of individuals based in Argentina have taken it upon themselves to liberate and educate the population of their country on Bitcoin, with the hopes of aiding sustainable economic growth via the possibilities of Bitcoin and the ensuing fintech sector.

The group has managed to create a fun, unique way of spreading the message. Pictured below is La Bitcoineta, their stylised Bitcoin education van that has taken them across the cities and towns of Argentina.

They described their objective to Bitcoin News as an ”initiative to generate bridges between those who are developing the technologies that will change the world and the different productive, social, cultural, and economic ecosystems.” The individuals in the team shared their understanding that firsthand projects can inspire new solutions, or benefit from existing technologies.

Smaller communities lacked general Bitcoin awareness

Speaking to Bitcoin News, a spokesperson for La Bitcoineta described a striking lack of awareness surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain technology in the smaller communities that they visited. Consequently, this meant that much time in these locations was spent devoted to explaining these concepts to the locals from scratch, basic education being the first step for these individuals to enter the market. Their efforts were welcomingly received; the spokesperson said ”everybody is open to the new concept and enjoys us going there.”

Bitcoin has started to make its mark in Argentina

As the spokesperson described it as surprising to some, nearly all of the smaller cities that were visited had some individuals who were knowledgeable on the subject, indicating the vast reach of Bitcoin internationally. These knowledgeable ”bitcoiners,” as they described them, shared enormous gratitude towards the team for taking the time to visit and share their knowledge with their hometown.

Is local media the answer?

The team told Bitcoin News that they have received an exponential amount of national media traction during their journey so far, with feedback for their work largely positive. They noted local media as a powerful tool in aiding their cause. Frequently La Bitcoineta would make headlines in the local newspapers and their online outlets, helping develop the regional conversation around Bitcoin and blockchain. The irony was not lost that such a traditional, established media form would come to aid this reformist cause.

Challenges and successes

The team behind La Bitcoineta see the greatest possible results of their tour as driving crypto-related change in communities that would benefit this the most, particularly in areas where individual’s efforts could be monetized or reach international markets. Through their talks, they hope to create an impact on the local fintech sector, inspiring projects, changes and pushing for a less bureaucratic government.
The biggest challenge they have faced in reaching this goal has been their ability to reach and connect with the right people. While the team has been considerably active in pushing their agenda, reaching government decision makers themselves and identifying the communities that they could positively impact the most has presented the greatest test.
Despite La Bitcoineta’s Bitcoin positivity, those behind the objective do not see it as likely, nor are they pushing for Bitcoin to be adopted as a regular payment system. This is only considered by themselves as a likely option if merchant outlets themselves incentivize cryptocurrency spending through a discounted alternative to fiat.
Instead, the biggest fruitful challenge they see is pursuing Bitcoin to be a globally recognized store of value and a better alternative medium of exchange. The impending fight against banks and governments is their biggest concerns for reaching this, but they are confident the cryptocurrency driven change they envision will be achieved.
La Bitcoineta’s journey can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.
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Which Countries Are Most Likely to Adopt Bitcoin First?

Bitcoin replacing a country’s government currency would be a huge achievement for cryptocurrency as well as a historical milestone. But which countries are most likely to adopt such a nascent currency?

One of the biggest drivers for adopting a cryptocurrency would be necessity. Countries where citizens experience hyperinflation, political instability, or other factors that shake confidence in a government currency typically see higher demand in alternative currencies like Bitcoin.

Countries possibly adopting Bitcoin on a major scale, for this reason, would be Iran, Venezuela and Argentina, to name a few.

Iran has made headlines with plans to withdraw EUR 300 million from German banks. Rising tension since 2015, when the US left the Nuclear Agreement, has only amplified with Trump entering the presidency.

The tension has only weakened confidence in the Iranian rial, leading to higher than market prices within Iran borders. Couple this with the US sanctions placed restricting liquidity and hyperinflation of 112%, and Bitcoin easily becomes the currency of choice for Iranian citizens.

While rial’s hyperinflation will lead to holders of the currency losing more than half of their value, this is nothing compared to Venezuela’s economic crisis.

A year ago, a cup of coffee in Venezuela was 2,200 Venezuelan bolivar (VEF), or around USD 0.20. Since then, inflation has been rampant, causing that same cup to be sold at VEF 1,400,000, for an effective annual inflation rate above 60,000%.

This has led to an extreme demand for the cryptocurrency; peer-to-peer exchange Localbitcoins shows Venezuela traders selling Bitcoin at rates of VEF 9 billion (USD 75,000) to VEF 19.5 Billion (USD 158,531). Despite these massive premiums and the cryptocurrency experiencing a correction of its own, Bitcoin is still a more attractive option than the fiat currency.

Such an extreme devaluation of the currency makes Venezuela a prime country to embrace Bitcoin wholeheartedly.

Argentina is in a similar situation and currently has the higher interest rate in the world (40%). Continually rising prices coupled with increasing unemployment rates makes Bitcoin a viable currency in this case, over the Argentine peso.

Cashless societies could also be primed for a crypto take over but cryptocurrency needs a lot of refinement before this could become a reality.

Contactless payment methods are already very convenient and with credit cards, even offer cashback rewards and customer protection. For cryptocurrency to penetrate markets like Canada, Sweden and the UK, digital currencies must not only offer similar characteristics but be much better than existing systems.

A good scaling solution needs to put in place as well, in order for Bitcoin (or whatever cryptocurrency a society adopts) to handle the number of transactions.

The third set of countries likely to adopt Bitcoin are the ones that are already open to cryptocurrency-related businesses, regulatory wise.

Countries that fall into this category include Japan, Estonia, Singapore, Australia, and South Korea. Sweden also goes into this category because despite its cashless society, recognizing Bitcoin as a legal form of payment.

Countries that are Bitcoin-friendly will typically have a higher percentage of citizens already exposed and actively using the cryptocurrency, making it far easier for Bitcoin to become widespread.

Being on welcoming turf also allows companies to come in and introduce new use case scenarios for the cryptocurrency, thus improving Bitcoin’s penetration rates.

Bitcoin is a fairly new currency and as more people begin to understand and classify it, more countries will become more receptive to the decentralized money. It will be interesting to see which country becomes to adopt Bitcoin as a dominant currency and if it’s from necessity, convenience or another reasons.

 

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Five Spanish Speaking Universities Offering Crypto-Courses Join Education Surge

Five universities across three Spanish-speaking countries, Spain, Argentina and Venezuela, are now offering crypto courses, reports one of the crypto-news outlets.

Asia is normally regarded as the world’s cryptocurrency hub with centers, courses, and crypto educational establishments on the rise, where Japan, Thailand and South Korea are leading the way.

However, Asia isn’t the only continent taking steps to educate its crypto communities. There are numerous courses now being run by private schools, companies, and universities across the globe. The new courses for Spanish speakers offer studies in Bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, initial coin offerings (ICOs), smart contracts, DAOs, and crypto-economics.

In Europe, Spain’s capital Madrid offers a new venue for crypto studies. The Universidad de Alcalá is not only a world heritage site it is also one of Europe’s oldest universities dating back to 1293. The University of Alcalá is especially renowned in the Spanish-speaking world for its annual presentation of the highly prestigious Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious and remunerative award given for Spanish-language literature.

The university now offers a course entitled “Master in Ethereum, Blockchain Technology and Crypto-Economics,” and promotes the study as being for “professionals, students or those interested in learning about blockchain-based technologies from an integrative perspective of technical, economic, social and legal aspects.”

Not to be outdone, another Madrid university has opened its doors to cryptocurrency enthusiasts and professionals. Universidad Europea Madrid, the European University of Madrid, is a private university with more than 16,000 students. The school offers a 6-month postgraduate diploma in Bitcoin and blockchain which starts in October.

Across the world in South America, struggling Venezuela, along with Argentina have both recently started offering courses. In hyperinflation struck Venezuela, Bitcoin for some is the only way of putting food on the table due to the state of the country’s national currency — bolivar, which is now worth practically nothing.

The Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) a private non-profit business school with 3 campuses, which offers a 60hr summer course called “Cryptocurrency, blockchain and business in the new economy, opportunities and challenges for management and business.”

In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, is a private university focusing on information technology, business and engineering studies offering a course of 3 months for newcomers to cryptocurrencies:

“It is designed especially for people who start from scratch or with very basic knowledge and who want to learn the reasons, mechanics and disruptive opportunities at a monetary, technological level and as a form of investment that is in the present and future in the world of crypto-economies.”

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 2018

South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Venezuela

Police attempt to steal $15,000 in Bitcoin from Bitcoin miner: Venezuela’s police has continued its crackdown against cryptocurrency traders and miners with one miner reporting that the local police tried to steal USD 15,000 worth of cryptocurrencies from him, according to local news.

Venezuela is in the midst of an economic crisis right now with the total outstanding foreign debt hovering around USD 141 billion according to latest figures by Moody’s Investor Service. The government has virtually been in default since last November with inflation hitting record levels around 13,000%, rendering the local currency worthless.

Many Venezuelans see cryptocurrencies as a means of survival against the crushing inflation and mining is gaining popularity but the government under President Nicholas Maduro is banking on its cryptocurrency Petro and is bent on eliminating the competition from the local market to increase the appeal of the currency.

According to Bloomberg, a Venezuelan businessman reported that the police raided his house and tried to extort USD 15,000 from him, threatening to take away all of his mining equipment and the mined cryptocurrencies with them. Eventually, the Venezuelan had to gather his belongings and make way to the Colombian border.

Government bans import of crypto miners: The Venezuelan customs has reportedly outlawed ASICs and GPU mining equipment and is confiscating everything it can fin,d according to latest reports from the beleaguered South American nation.

Cryptocurrencies have been banned in the restive country following the government’s audacious decision to launch its own oil-backed state cryptocurrency Petromoneda. While Petro has failed to gain international recognition, other cryptocurrencies are being adopted by local populace but the government is now fighting back and initiating sweeping crackdowns.

Brazil

Exchange banned in China enters Brazil: Huobi cryptocurrency exchange has opened a new office in Sao Paulo with an intention to enter this big Brazilian market, according to Coindesk. The move marks one of many new entrants to the local market as the cryptocurrency boom engulfs the biggest South American nation.

Huobi was officially founded in China but once the cryptocurrency trading was completely banned by the Chinese government, Huobi moved to other parts of the world, with Brazil a realistic target. Other cryptocurrency exchanges may also open their offices in the country following government bans in other parts of the world.

Argentina

Bitcoin non-profits creating awareness on crypto: After the government announced an intention to open thousands of crypto ATMs across the country, two Bitcoin non-profits are engaging in a mass campaign to spread knowledge about cryptocurrencies, according to CoinTelegraph reports.

The two non-profits, Bitcoin Argentina and Bitcoin Americana, are touring the rural areas of the country to spread knowledge of cryptocurrencies and their incredible usefulness among the larger population that may have missed the crypto revolution due to remote locations.

According to local news source Infobae, the movement has been christened as “Bitcoineta” by both the startups, which means “Bitcoin van” in Spanish, because their movement involves a Bitmobile of sorts touring each village and spreading information. The ‘Bitmobile’ is equipped with a projector and other multimedia to help in the presentations to the local populace.

The Bitcoin movement has been greeted with enthusiasm across the country as it battles chronic inflation. Investing in cryptocurrencies is seen as a way to conserve the value of money in the hands of Argentinians like other areas experiencing hyperinflation.

Argentina declared top destination for tourists aiming to pay in Bitcoin: Software developer turned traveler Felix Weiss has toured the world with only Bitcoin in his wallet and has rated Argentina among other countries as one of the top places for tourists who are willing to use popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.

Some airlines have started accepting payment in cryptocurrencies. Shopping has especially become easier as more and more businesses start accepting cryptocurrencies, according to Weiss.

A Bitcoin ATM is often seen as a last resort and Argentina is close to becoming a leader in Bitcoin ATMs shortly with over 30,000 machines planned.

 

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“Bitcoineta” Road Trip Hits Argentinian Highways With Bitcoin Story

Two Argentinian non-profit organizations, Bitcoin Argentina and Bitcoin Americana, are touring rural Argentina spreading knowledge about Bitcoin among local communities, Cointelegraph reports.

Local news outlet Infobae has reported that they’ve decided to coin the name “Bitcoineta” for the project by blending together Bitcoin with ‘camioneta’, the Spanish word for van, their mode of travel for their huge road trip which will take them across the nation.

The Bitmobile has been rigged out for the long road trip, complete with a movie projector, in which the team hopes to reach each village and town in the country across Argentina