It is no secret to anyone. The economic situation in Venezuela has made bitcoin a clear alternative. On the one hand, as a safeguard of value. But also because the liquidity of exchange sites such as LocalBitcoins has made cryptocurrency a quick and simple option to have funds for Venezuelan daily life. Making a market, covering outings with the family, have become much easier for this designer using bitcoin in Venezuela, instead of dollars.
Mark (this is what we will call him before the request to maintain his anonymity) is a designer who has been collecting his income in bitcoin (BTC) from Venezuela for months. In that time, he has become accustomed to calculating everything in BTC or its equivalent in dollars, although he spends in bolivars. Although the dollar has been gaining ground in commercial transactions, the bolivar remains the main currency for consumption in the country.
Among his decisions, he established one day a week to make food purchases. It is his “market day”, as he calls it. Every Friday, Mark gets up early and, before doing anything but brewing coffee, turns on the computer, enters LocalBitcoins and exchanges bitcoins for bolivars for the purchases of the week. If he did it a couple of days before, or even the night before, his money could be devalued at least, he says.
Before starting to save on bitcoins, the concern was to spend all the bolivars that entered their accounts. The faster, the better. There was no better way to get the most out of your income than to get rid of them immediately. That changed with bitcoin, he reflects. One less worry.
However, it recognizes that the volatility of the cryptocurrency market has been a factor of concern. Even so, the price of bitcoin has tripled since it began to receive revenue in bitcoin. In the medium term, at least, it has been a solution.
A whole day buying dollars
It is not that bitcoin is the only option that Venezuelans resort to, although due to the figures maintained by local users in LocalBitcoins, we know that it is one of the preferred ones. The majority in Venezuela are not familiar with bitcoin and resort to buying and selling dollars, especially in cash. But José Luis could never get used to this. And recently confirmed why.
A few days ago, the company that is forming with his partner and some friends received a payment from a European country. He received it in bolivars via remittances. Normally, in those cases, they convert the money into bitcoin immediately. But this time I needed cash dollars to pay lawyers and accountants for the company registration process. He tells that the process was as long as cumbersome and stressful.
We spend all day, hours and hours, just to buy a few dollars in cash. With bitcoin, it doesn’t take me an hour, maybe two in the worst case, if the seller takes his time or there is an inconvenience, although those cases are very rare.
Mark, a Venezuelan designer.
In addition, to buy less than 200 dollars he had to resort to several sellers, without counting that the negotiations were through intermediaries. Today, he says, they still don’t have all the tickets they bought.
“They are with people of trust, who were the intermediaries, yes. But it is super cumbersome to take a process that way, ”he says. If they had an emergency, for example, they would not have immediate access to their own money. With bitcoin, it is a virtually immediate process for José Luis.
Switch to bolivars just to spend
One day he went to the pharmacy looking for some antibiotics for his wife. He had a few bolivars in his account, but the price of medicine was higher. He made the calculation, went to his house very close to the establishment, entered LocalBitcoins and did the usual procedure. It hadn’t been an hour and he already had the medicine.
If you are going out with your daughter, calculate an approximate of the expenses you will make at and change BTC before leaving home. Whatever the plan, it always changes to bolivars just before spending. In the beginning, it changed for the whole week, but the money lost value in a matter of days.
Mark was resolved to part of his day to day in a complicated environment like Venezuela. Mark got in bitcoin a better alternative to dollars to lead his life in Venezuela. But it does not conform. “ If people saw the potential of cryptocurrency and increased adoption, we could all benefit. The majority resort to changing all the local money they receive to dollars, but if they received bitcoin they would not have to worry about it and they would still be fighting the loss of constant value of their bolivars, ”he considers.