Venezuela and New Hampshire in the U.S. are too vastly different economic areas. Yet despite this, two people, thousands of miles apart, are showing what it’s like to live off of Dash, a peer-to-peer digital currency for payments.
Joel Valenzuela is a cryptocurrency enthusiast living in New Hampshire and Eugenia Alcalá Sucre is an entrepreneur in Venezuela. For the past three years, Valenzuela has been living completely off of Dash to test its viability as a cryptocurrency; Sucre started paying for things with the altcoin last September when she organised the first Dash conference in the South American country.
Both speaking to CoinJournal, they explained why they are living off Dash and what made them chose the 11th most valuable altcoin.
According to Valenzuela, he started experimenting with using a P2P digital currency to see if it functioned as advertised. He initially started with Bitcoin, but found that it didn’t work as well after a while.
“I decided to keep the experiment going, and went for the only other solution that came even close to feasible at the time, which was Dash,” he added. “Since then it has become the most used cryptocurrency for payment purposes.”
According to DiscoverDash, there are more than 2,800 merchants listed as accepting Dash for payment in Venezuela. This is followed by the U.S. with just shy of 1,130. Retailers on DiscoverDash include Overstock. To fill in the gaps, services such as Bitrefill sell gift cards for Dash to platforms such as Amazon, Hotels.com, and eBay.
For Valenzuela, the easiest part about using Dash is its ability to be spent internationally from one person to another and on a P2P level. While he has used his Dash to purchase flights, festival tickets, food and drink, hotel rooms, and furniture, he does add that the hardest thing has been paying for bills and parking.
Unlike America, Venezuela has a high number of problems affecting it. Hyperinflation is one such example. Other economical barriers include a lack of cash, malfunction of the POS system, and low daily spending limits.
In Sucre’s opinion, living just off the country’s fiat currency, the bolívar, is not a viable solution because the purchasing power goes down each day. In a bid to find an alternative, she first turned her attention to the U.S. dollar; however, for many Venezuelans it’s difficult to open bank accounts in another country.
“That is why I started to research about cryptocurrencies,” she said. “When I found [out] about Dash I just fell in love with it because of its speed and low fees, and especially because of its governance system.”
As a result, she decided to live off of Dash as well as teach people to do the same thing. She does this through her educational nonprofit, Dash Caracas, which grew up to become Dash Venezuela. As the first Dash community in the country, the aim of the project is to inform each person what the blockchain is, what cryptocurrencies are, what is Dash, and how it can be used to overcome economic barriers.
Since its launch last year, the nonprofit has attracted over 6,000 people to its events, with more than 12,000 people registered on its database receiving weekly information. According to Sucre, this has inspired other teams and Dash communities around the country, which, in turn, is bringing more exposure to Dash as an alternative payment option.
The growth of Dash in Venezuela has also been noted by Ryan Taylor, CEO of the Dash Core Group. During an interview with Business Insider in August he stated that earlier this year Venezuela became its number two market ahead of China and Russia.
“Dash has been a game changer to people who have adopted it,” Sucre added. “They can now protect themselves from the hyperinflation, and also connect again after so many years with the global market.”
Even though Venezuela does have the oil-backed Petro, which launched in February, it has yet to be accepted on any exchange, states Sucre. Not only that, but there is much speculation as to whether it is a scam.
Even though the U.S. economic system is largely different from that of Venezuela, that doesn’t make the cryptocurrency any less attractive as a means of payment. Valenzuela explains that the biggest eye-opener for him was how antiquated the modern financial system is especially when compared with cryptocurrency.
“Merchants are paying egregious fees with complicated setups, waiting days to be able to access funds,” he said. “Sending money peer-to-peer without cash is a nightmare, as I’ve been paid this way before and then struggled to find a way to actually spend it. Once I did I incurred delays and withdrawals fees. It’s mind-blowing that the modern economy manages to function on systems such as this.”
Yet, since using the altcoin he has noticed that it has got easier with each passing month as more merchants and services begin accepting it. Sucre agrees, stating that with an increasing number of businesses accepting Dash, it is becoming easier to spend in Venezuela as well.
While there are challenges involved such as getting used to changes in the price of DASH coins or infrastructual deficiencies particularly on the merchant side, both are committed to using Dash for the long-term. They are also both of the opinion that cryptocurrencies will eventually replace fiat.
“The contrasts and advantages are more apparent in the developing world and in countries with hyperinflation, but the same applies on a much more limited scale across the whole world,” said Valenzuela.