Cryptocurrencies emerge as an alternative to conventional money (FIAT) in mistrust towards banks during some economic/financial policies in certain countries. As a result of the popularity of Bitcoin, the use of cryptocurrencies has grown in several countries globally; a clear example of this is the number of cryptocurrency wallets that exist, which amount to 50.71 million in the second quarter of 2020, according to Statista.com as you can see the following graph:

Semiannual evolution of the number of blockchain wallet users worldwide from the third quarter of 2016 to the second quarter of 2020. Source: Statista.com

Despite this indicator, it is important to note that each country has its own regulations (there are even some countries that prohibit them), which can influence said cryptocurrencies. In this article, we will summarize the acceptance of cryptocurrencies in some Latin American countries and the United States, citing some local events and taking into account two reference indicators: number of Bitcoin ATMs per country (study carried out by Coin ATM Radar) and the use of cryptocurrencies globally (study conducted by Statista.com).

Colombia

Colombia published a decree that considers that cryptocurrencies are not illegal; however, they will not receive legal recognition in the short term. Although Colombia has not gone through inflationary processes and has a free circulation of currency, cryptocurrencies have increased considerably. Regarding the number of existing Bitcoin ATMs, Colombia has the highest number in Latin America, with 28 ATMs in Bogotá, 12 in Medellín, 6 in Cúcuta, and 4 Cali. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, the figure reaches 18% of those surveyed, tying for first place with Brazil.

Brazil

Brazil has given cryptocurrencies the asset category, so they would be subject to capital gains taxes of 15% above the threshold. Brazil is the country where there has been a greater increase in cryptocurrencies, ranking first in Latin America in terms of its use with 18%. On the other hand, when it comes to the number of Bitcoin ATMs, it has 3 in Sao Paulo and 1 in Rio de Janeiro.

Argentina

Inflationary processes in that country and certain restrictions on the US dollar have made many people adopt cryptocurrencies. Regarding the number of existing Bitcoin ATMs, we have the city of Buenos Aires with 10 ATMs, the fifth place in Latin America (only behind cities such as Bogotá, Panama City, Medellín, and Santo Domingo). Regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, the figure reaches 16% of the people surveyed in that country, which places it in third place in Latin America (only behind Brazil and Colombia).

Mexico

Mexico has not expressly prohibited the use of cryptocurrencies; however, it talks with government regulators to introduce its own cryptocurrency and its respective blockchain. Regarding the use of ATMs, Mexico City has 4 (equal to Cali and above Santiago de Chile, Lima, and Santiago de los Caballeros); however, regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, the number of people surveyed reaches 12%, which places it in fourth place in Latin America.

Bitcoin ATMs in Latin America. Source: Coin ATM Radar and Statista.com

Chile

In 2015, the government-financed the purchase of Bitcoin with Chilean pesos, which gives the impression that the government intends to provide facilities in this area. Regarding the use of ATMs, Santiago de Chile has 3, which places it in the final part of the region (tied with Lima and Santiago de los Caballeros); however, regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, the number of people surveyed reaches 11%, which places it in fifth place in Latin America.

Panama

Regarding the use of ATMs, said the country has 17 in Panama City, which places it in second place in Latin America; however, regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, the number of people surveyed reaches 8%, which is not within the top 10 of the ranking made by Statista.com

Venezuela

Inflationary processes in that country (the highest in the region), restrictions on the US dollar, and economic policies at the government level have made many people adopt the use of cryptocurrencies. Venezuela is a special case since there have been occasions in which certain activities related to cryptocurrencies have been criminalized (for example, the detention of miners) while on the other hand, measures have been taken to encourage them (creation of an alternative cryptocurrency promoted by the Government called Petro).

Although Venezuela does not have Bitcoin ATMs (we must remember that there are also no ATMs for US dollars), we can note an outstanding fact that they are the 6 Bitcoin ATMs that are located in the border city of Cúcuta (Colombia), which has a large influx of Venezuelan citizens. Regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, Venezuela is not within the top 10 of the ranking made by Statista.com (it is below 7%). Still, it could be deduced that this is due to two factors: operations carried out outside of Venezuelan territory and lack of trust when providing official information in the surveys due to possible retaliation from the day’s government.

U.S.

This country has the largest number of cryptocurrency users and Bitcoin ATMs and has the largest number of cryptocurrency transactions worldwide. While there are some bills to protect cryptocurrency users, some states have regulations that do not favor cryptocurrencies. Regarding the use of ATMs, the United States is ranked number 1 globally, having 627 ATMs only in Los Angeles, followed by 323 ATMs in Atlanta and 316 in Chicago. Regarding the use of cryptocurrencies, the number of people surveyed reaches 7%, which places it outside the top 10 of the ranking made by Statista.com; however, we must take into account that the US has a population of more than 300 million inhabitants and in turn the largest number of cryptocurrency transactions globally.

Cities with the highest number of Bitcoin ATMs installed in the United States are August 20, 2020. Source: Statista.com

What do you think about this topic? How accepted are cryptocurrencies in your country?

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