Risk assets were a unique offering in a region that has long suffered from a volatile economy and closed capital markets. Crypto entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, accustomed to volatility and isolation, are more optimistic about the situation.
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At the end of 2021, all of Latin America was experiencing a boom in bitcoin and cryptocurrency projects.
• In May 2021, Mexico announced the arrival of the region's first crypto unicorn, the Bitso exchange.
• El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender (with limited success) in September 2021.
• Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil ranked among the top 15 crypto adoption countries in Chainalysis' 2021 global index.
As Venezuelan economist Aaron Olmos of the Institute for Higher Administrative Studies (IESA) told the world, people in Latin America have begun to turn to cryptocurrencies as a way to get around their unstable or stagnant economy.
He said that in surveys he conducted with crypto users in Venezuela, the most common response was: “I would rather have a digital asset that goes up and down in price than a currency whose only real trend is going down, thanks to political economy.”
Venezuela and Argentina, which suffer from high inflation have become particularly reliable testing grounds as financial ecosystems where crypto can be more attractive than government currencies.
A private investor and crypto user from Venezuela, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the cryptocurrency “the best option available at the moment” given the volatility of the bolivar and local US dollar shortages. The annual inflation rate in Venezuela reached 686.4% in 2021.
This does not mean that Latin American investors were left unscathed. The recent collapse of the high-profile Terra project and the volatility of Celsius led to a decrease in the price of cryptocurrencies, affecting traders, companies and governments alike.
Conte, a Mexican crypto entrepreneur, was more direct. “What is happening in Latin America is survival of the fittest. Those who understand the value of long-term thinking and stability,” he notes.
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