48-year-old Buenos Aires resident Jerónimo Ferrer recently explained why crypto (in particular, Bitcoin) has become so popular in Argentina, which is the the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world by area.
Ferrer is a Business Development Associate at Paxful, which is a leading peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin marketplace. He is also the host of a highly rated Airbnb experience (in the Argentinian capital) titled “Our local crazy economy & Bitcoin“.
Here is a brief description of his 2.5 hour tour, which costs around $28-$35 per person:
“We will visit the Central Bank Museum where we will go through the history of money in general. Then we will take a look to Argentina particular money issues, like monetary politics and their results in our country. Later we will walk trough de financial district to finally sit down to have a coffee (not included) where we can start learning about bitcoin.
“Learn how to configure your Wallet and how to protect your bitcoin in the most secure way. Next step will be walk to Florida, Street, surrounded by ‘arbolitos’, to find the Bitcoin ATM and learn how to buy and sell the currency. The place where you can have your first Satoshis!“
Here are some of the most interesting aspects of his story:
- He started the tours in February 2019 because he wanted to “spread bitcoin as a tool of freedom in a country that does not have a strong currency, with runaway inflation at an average rate of 70%.”
- Two major economic events in Argentina, namely (1) the collapse of the Argentine peso (ARS) in 2001 and the resulting economic measures (“corralito“) taken by the government, such as temporary freezing of bank accounts, to stop a bank run; and (2) the government’s nationalization of around $30 billion in private pension funds in 2008 to “protect retirees and workers” had a profound influence on his view of money and his approach to investingin a high-inflation environment.
- Since he was “a victim of both events,” he “started looking for other ways of saving and found bitcoin when, during one of his previous jobs, an Italian client asked him to pay in that cryptocurrency,” which is he when he “fell in love with it.”
- Ferrer says since there is a limit ($200) on how much USD people can buy through banks, “illegal exchange offices” have popped all over the place, but the ARS-USD rate they offer is not that great (up to 100% worse than than the official rate).
On April 22, BBC News reported on Argentina’s crypto scene, and Ferrer was also mentioned in that report, where he is qupted as saying:
“When you have restrictions, you need tools for freedom.“
The BBC News report mentioned that “for some early adopters of cryptocurrency in Argentina, even a relatively young and unpredictable currency is preferable to the extremely changeable peso,” which is why Bitcoin continues to be super popular despite claims by some critics that it is too volatile, a claim that Gabor Gurbacs, who is the director for digital assets strategy at MVIS (a subsidiary of VanEck), made fun of recently:
María Mercedes Etchegoyen, an Argentine lawyer specializing in intellectual property law, told BBC News that “in the pandemic, people noticed this situation, and to protect their money they chose to look for an asset that was limited” and that “in Argentina, there is no specific regulation on cryptocurrency.”