Subway stations and public buses in Buenos Aires are wallpapered with advertisements for stablecoins and Bitcoin. “Beat inflation. Buy Bitcoin,” one says, while another pledges a potential windfall from an investment in stablecoins.
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The adoption of crypto in frontier markets like Argentina is now outpacing that of the U.S. and Europe. According to a Morning Consult survey, approximately one-third of citizens in Argentina were buying or selling virtual currencies once a month — a percentage that is roughly twice the amount that we see in America.
Argentina is also the top country in the world for receiving paychecks in crypto, according to data from Deel.
Ordinary Argentines are more buoyant about cryptocurrency’s ability to bounce back after the crypto winter — especially compared to the Argentine peso, which they expect to continue to tank as the year progresses.
Part of the discontent is linked to profligate government spending, which many believe sparked the present economic quagmire in Argentina. The government is continuing to print Argentine pesos despite the fact that there is a revenue deficit and soaring inflation.
Regulators have taken notice of growing enthusiasm around virtual assets, however. The central bank recently cracked down on Argentine banks that buy and sell crypto, after two of the country’s largest banks began offering the services.
Argentines have also long put their faith in the U.S. dollar, the primary saving instrument in a country where pesos have yielded decreasing purchasing power.
The Brookings Institution’s economist Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti told the New York Times that Argentines are second only to Americans in saving dollars in cash. The government of Argentina has tried to dampen this by capping the amount of U.S. dollars a citizen can buy in a single month to just $200 and levying large fees on transactions.
The currency’s other notable problems du jour are the ongoing war in Ukraine and the global supply chain. Crypto has emerged as a release valve for the ongoing pressure: “We offered a way around the currency controls by selling crypto dollars,” Julián Fraiese, founder of the crypto exchange Buenbit, told the Times.
But even big crypto exchanges like Buenbit have had a crypto winter moment, firing almost half of their workers.
Despite this, most crypto investors in Argentina continue to see stablecoins, Bitcoin and Ethereum as a relative safe haven.
“I prefer to expose myself to the risks of crypto than the risks of the Argentine government,” Daniel Convertini, 34, a communications employee, told the Times.