Can Bitcoin Really Take Hold in Venezuela?

Digital currencies like Bitcoin have taken hold in developed nations that have adequate broadband infrastructure, but can this technology take root in countries like Venezuela, which has some of slowest internet speeds in Latin America, second only to Cuba.

According data gathered by Freedom House, about 57% (17.2 Million) of Venezuelans have some form of internet access, with government-owned ISP CANTV owning majority of the broadband IT infrastructure in the country. More recently, internet accessibility in the country has also taken another hit, as power outages are now a daily occurrence, according to a Global Voices report.

Despite the dire economic situation and an unpredictable power grid, some Venezuelans have taken matters into their own hands. Eduardo Hernandez, owner of pastry shop Tortas Don Eduardo, decided to accept Bitcoin payments at his business after researching digital currencies online.

In an interview with DiarioBitcoin, Hernandez explained that he hasn't had any bitcoin sales yet and that he remains optimistic about the future of the technology as more Venezuelans, especially the young and tech-savvy, warm up to the idea of decentralized digital money.

While Mr. Hernandez is among a tiny minority of Venezuelan business owners that have taken a liking to digital currencies, interest in Bitcoin is much higher among Venezuelans looking to preserve purchasing power as the Bolivar collapses.

This trend can be clearly observed by the exploding trading volume taking place on LocalBitcoins - a P2P digital currency trading venue - in Venezuela. Data gathered by Coin Dance shows an all-time high of Bs77,113,271 (162 BTC) worth of transactions for the last week of May, 2016.

While Venezuela is experiencing triple-digit inflation at present, the International Monetary Fund estimates that inflation in the country will likely balloon to 1600% into 2017. Given the IMF's apocalyptic prediction and the current figures coming out of LocalBitcoins, Bitcoin's popularity is likely to soar in Venezuela over the next 12 months.

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