A Bitcoin Day conference which took place last week in Buenos Aires attracted some 500 cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
Argentina and Bitcoin were once described as a “match made in heaven”. Its financial and economic history is a fragile one after suffering numerous rounds of inflation; hyperinflation of 20,000% in the late 1980s being the South American country’s lowest economic moment.
Bitcoin has been greeted in Argentina with enthusiasm partly because countries with histories of inflation and devaluation of their currencies see the digital currency as one that can conserve the value of user investments and savings. After President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner‘s tightening of currency controls debased the Argentine peso (ARS) in 2012, Bitcoin has gained increasing popularity.
In 2017, the volume of Bitcoins traded in Argentina increased to a record 2.1 million ARS, quadruple the volume of the previous year, against a backdrop of a growing fintech market.
Chile looks to its neighbor Argentina as an indication of how the cryptocurrency climate can be improved on the continent, avoiding mistakes which have been made elsewhere. Bitcoin exchange Buda’s CEO, Guillermo Torrealba, is making an effort to achieve banking support in Argentina: “There are even banks here that have executives that are exclusively dedicated to cryptocurrency companies.”
The closing of cryptocurrency exchange accounts in Chile over recent weeks by the Chilean State Bank demonstrates Argentina’s forward-looking approach to the use and adoption of digital currencies. But this is not necessarily going to become the status quo elsewhere in South America.
CEO of digital notarization platform Signatura, Gonzalo Blousson, acknowledged that progress is being made in Argentina due to the registration of official bulletins on blockchain, commenting that “We used to call the companies to tell them what blockchain is about. Today they call us…”
Speaking at the Bitcoin Day conference, Carlos Maslaton, head of treasury at wallet provider Xapo, indicated that he was satisfied with the current dialogue on how financial institutions were wary of Bitcoin because he felt it “generates competition” in financial markets.