One of the news that has caused the most sensation in recent weeks in the cryptocurrency environment in Latin America, is the celebrated adoption of payments with cryptocurrencies in Traki, one of the largest retail stores in Venezuela. The company created a department, called CriptoTraki. CryptoNoticias spoke with its main analysts and developers, as well as with its CEO.
The retail company announced a commercial alliance with the Venezuelan cryptocurrency processing and exchange company, Cryptobuyer. Also with representatives for Venezuela of Indonesian company Pundi X, to use its physical outlets. We got feedback from Michael Gomez, CEO of CriptoTraki; and we interviewed the main managers of the project, Diego Ortiz and Alejandro Fernández.
What is CriptoTraki?
It is important to note that this department is not new. In fact, as corroborated by the team’s own members, CryptoTraki was created in 2017, in the midst of the media boom that charged the issue of cryptocurrencies in Venezuela, especially after the creation of Petro, by the government of Nicolás Maduro.
“CriptoTraki was born in Venezuela in 2017. Following the decline in bolivar sales that were held at the time, it was decided to launch the method seeing the rise of these tools. It was also born with the announcement of President Maduro, related to Petro, especially because of the need we had to adopt different forms of payment, including cryptocurrencies,” Gómez said.
While Gomez noted that the implementation of these means of payment occurred quickly in Traki’s 49 stores, he stressed that the system was tedious, as the analysts complemented it, it used somewhat rudimentary tools. Hence the latest business alliances, to improve their support.
Since 2017, with the release of the state currency, there was a lot of confusion regarding cryptocurrencies The issue of adoption was a bit difficult because everything was done manually. The wallets were from Coinnomi. You had to wait for the network confirmation time. If it was Bitcoin it could take up to 45 minutes to make a payment, then it became tedious because the person had to wait that time in the box.
Michael Gomez, CEO, CriptoTraki
The migration to the Cryptobuyer platform has been a turning point, attracting with it new customers, a focal point of this strategy. Although it was launched in March and cryptocurrencies still do not have enough popularity among ordinary citizens, they have already processed some 1,000 transactions, although the figure is only an estimate. The dominant cryptocurrency is bitcoin, followed by dash and Litecoin, as explained by Diego Ortiz.
However, Ortiz points out that the collection is always made in bolivars. With this, the calculation of the number of cryptocurrencies to be spent is done based on the bolivar, taking advantage of Cryptobuyer’s technology. “They have provided us with the service and so we keep the accounts in accounting, until Sunacrip, the National Superintendency of Crypto-Actives, which is responsible for regulating this type of activity in Venezuela, issues legislation regarding collection with crypto-active,” he stressed.
Venezuelan and Petro regulation
We take the opportunity to know the position of the company, in view of government regulation. In the Venezuelan context, there is a widespread belief that the one who uses the petro for his business purposes is because he is benefiting in some “dark” way, thanks to the government of Nicolás Maduro.
For Alejandro Fernández, at least regarding Traki, these beliefs are unfounded. In fact, he believes that adopting Petro as a means of payment simply offers more opportunities for people. It refers especially to those who receive this asset as part of the bonds obtained through the Patria Card, a social assistance system created by Chavismo in the South American country. However, it is important to note that Traki does nothing with Petros.
Traki just stores those Petros and leaves them there. That’s all. As the consumer happens, there is also a kind of confusion in the company because it has not been properly explained what the role of the Petro is. Is it a payment method? Is it savings? What is it? There are variants such as Petro Ahorro or Petro ORO. We didn’t invent this, sunacrip has explained. The real Petro, the “street” Petro is the one priced at USD 60.
Alejandro Fernandez, developer and analyst, CriptoTraki
With this same approach, the company has advanced different business alliances. The idea is that customers have many means of payment because the main objective is trade. “We have between 700 and more than 900 transactions from March until now, being the epicenter of most transactions the El Recreo store, located in Caracas, pointed out about the experience with Cryptobuyer.
Regarding the pundi X agreement, Ortiz says it is a “truly new solution” because they are physical outlets that have their own ecosystem: a card and a series of cryptocurrencies with which you can pay. “We are not tied to any means of payment. We can probably use Xpay. But we are not tied to a particular cryptocurrency,” he stressed.
All options are on the table
Ortiz highlighted Pundi X’s “closed ecosystem” feature, referring to its point of sale, its card, and the tokens it accepts. Note that, in addition to BTC or ETH, options include the DAI parity cryptocurrency. The Pundi ecosystem is closed, only works through X Wallet, XPASS, your title, and the XPOS payment device, now operational in Traki. “The fire tests we’ve done take 0.05 seconds to process,” he said.
Indeed, when Fernandez gave a demonstration of how XPOS works. The transaction was even faster than transactions usually made using points of sale from the banking system working in the Caribbean country. Assuming an ideal scenario, an average consumer in Venezuela would take at least three minutes to pay for their purchase using a point of sale, compared to five seconds of payment with cryptocurrencies. XPASS costs 16,000 bolivars.
In addition, he noted that with Pundi X’s Open Developer platform, they could decide which currency to add from an even wider range. Traki could gain a competitive advantage, attracting new customers. “The idea is to have a lot of coins and for the customer to choose from.” If I buy bitcoin, it’s hard for me, but it’s easier if I buy Venezuelan coins, like BolivarCoin, which is worth in bolivars, and I move it to a Pundi X wallet,” Ortiz said. In addition to being involved with CriptoTraki, Ortiz noted that he is a developer of that project.
This opening even reaches Lightning Network (LN), the network to make microtransactions with bitcoin. Although it is a potential scalability solution for the BTC network, it is still in full development, so thinking about its implementation in Traki is a chimera. The CryptoTraki team is barely experimenting, they still do not expect to expand it in Venezuela.
“The team is developing a Lightning Network channel, but for internal use,” he added. Ortiz says they are now waiting to mount a testnet, “but for connectivity issues, we have to wait about five weeks. The Internet in Venezuela does not help”.
According to their personal experience other cryptocurrencies, with lower commissions, work best for in-store payments. In his case, Litecoin is the favorite, while Alejandro Fernández chooses BAT. Both recognized the potential of bitcoin, but it’s not their favorite.
Cryptocurrencies are not only for investment but serve as a payment method. Bitcoin was created as a payment method, not as a form of investment. It’s a P2P network, not a new gold. For all that has happened, and because of the technological revolution that is Bitcoin, it now has that conception, but, beyond that, we are focused on that cryptocurrencies are a payment method, that must be clear.
Diego Ortiz, analyst, and developer, CriptoTraki
Finally, the developers of CryptoTraki expressed that, in the future, they could achieve alliances with some altcoins to provide discounts to users for using these crypto-assets as means of payment, although it is only a possibility because all this process and its commercial convenience should be evaluated by the management of the company.