Argentina is often touted as a hub of Bitcoin adoption and innovation by those who wish to see the peer-to-peer digital cash system succeed; however, there does not seem to be much evidence to back up those claims. There have been plenty of articles written about the potential for bitcoin to takeover as a major currency and means of payment in Argentina, but the people on the ground there tell a different story. A short while ago, Streamium Developers Manuel Aráoz and Esteban Ordano were based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and they recently shared their views on the potential of Bitcoin in the South American country on an episode of Epicenter Bitcoin.
The News About Bitcoin in Argentina Has Been Totally Wrong
Certain media outlets, especially ones that are focused on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, have been known to publish less than accurate stories about this new financial technology on occasion. These stories often tout the success of Bitcoin in a country with a troubled economy or highly-inflationary currency, but Manuel Aráoz sees these claims from the media as nothing but pure fantasy. He explained his point of view during his recent appearance on Epicenter Bitcoin:
“It’s actually pretty funny to us to read all of those articles claiming Argentina is like the center for Bitcoin and where Bitcoin is growing faster than — it’s actually not quite true. As I always tell everyone, Argentina is kind of a good spot in many ways for Bitcoin because our local currency is really, really bad, there are big capital controls, and it’s hard to get foreign currencies, but actually, adoption is pretty low. I would say Bitcoin is growing much faster and adoption is much wider in other countries, so I wouldn’t say Argentina is the best place for Bitcoin right now. Actually, I read many things in news articles that are totally not true about Argentina and Bitcoin, so be careful about that.”
It should be noted that Longtime Bitcoin Entrepreneur Mircea Popescu also shared his own account of Bitcoin adoption in Argentina roughly a year ago. His full teardown of the idea that Bitcoin is taking off in Argentina can be read on his blog.
The Argentinian Government is Not Working Against Bitcoin
Epicenter Bitcoin Co-Host Sébastien Couture then asked a follow up question related to the Argentinian Government’s response to Bitcoin. Although the general consensus in the Bitcoin community seems to be that the government will do everything they can to stop the proliferation of the digital currency in the country, Aráoz stated that this was also not necessarily true:
“Actually, the Argentinian Government is not actively working against Bitcoin — I wouldn’t say that . . . It’s actually more or less a friendly environment for Bitcoin companies in Argentina.”
Aráoz went on to state that the only official, Bitcoin-related message that has come from the Argentinian Government has been a warning to the general citizenry from the central bank. The central bank simply wanted to warn consumers that bitcoin is not a currency issued by the government, and it is not regulated. It’s possible that the government simply does not have any interest in Bitcoin right now because, as Aráoz pointed out, adoption is still quite low.
There is Still a Strong Development Community in Argentina
Although the picture for Bitcoin in Argentina may not be as bright as some make it out to be, there are still a few positive developments taking place in the country. For example, Esteban Ordano pointed out that there is a vibrant development community in Argentina, which means there are plenty of people trying to build new companies and projects based around the Bitcoin protocol:
“But, at the same time, the development scene in Argentina is quite good. There are many companies and cool projects that are springing from Argentina, so that kind of counterbalances the low usage of Bitcoin in general.”
Aráoz agreed with Ordano’s comments later in the show, but once again stated that Argentina should not be viewed as the main beacon of hope for the Bitcoin community:
“There are some really good developers working on the technology side and there are some interesting companies down there too, but as far as what we read, at least about adoption (how it’s the perfect ecosystem and that we will get millions of users), I think that’s not going to happen — at least it’s not going to happen in Argentina first.”
There are many stories written about the adoption of Bitcoin in various countries around the world, but it’s important to remember that articles not based on first-hand accounts of Bitcoin usage in a particular location should be taken with a grain of salt.