South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Venezuela

Russian bank helps Venezuela defy US cryptocurrency sanctions: Venezuela’s controversial state cryptocurrency Petro took a significant boost in recent week as reports from Russian and Venezuela suggested that a little known Russian bank with ties to the government has helped the Petro currency circumnavigate the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies.

Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a financial institution based in Moscow with majority shareholders including the Venezuelan government and two state-owned Russian companies already under US sanctions, is defying the ban imposed by the Western bloc by allowing investors to invest in the oil-backed cryptocurrency.

The would-be investors would have to register with the Venezuelan government and download Petro’s wallet and then send money to the Venezuelan government account in the Evrofinance bank located in Moscow. The sum is believed to be around EUR 1,000. An equivalent amount of Petro is then sent to the user’s wallet and registered on the native blockchain.

Evrofinance bank’s role confirms the actions of the Russian government to defy US sanctions and its long-term plans to use cryptocurrency to achieve its objectives. Even on Petro’s official launch on 21 Feb 2018, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, an avid Petro supporter, praised the Russian businessmen from Zeus Exchange and Aerotrading to help him in his endeavor to create a “kryptonite” against US economic dominance.

According to Claiborne W Porter, formerly of the US Justice Department banking integrity unit and now head of Washington-based investigations firm Navigant:

“Like kids on the playground, Venezuela and Russia think they are fighting a common bully in U.S. sanctions, so they’re going to try and form a united front.”

Russia is reportedly using the Petro as a litmus test to eventually launch its own cryptocurrency backed by its immense oil and natural gas reserves. The Russian government also sees cryptocurrencies as a long-term plan to cut the global dominance of US dollar.

Argentina

Cryptocurrency exchange Buda starts operations: Argentina is seeing a major South American cryptocurrency exchange open shop in the country. Buda, an already popular exchange in Colombia, Chile and other Latin American countries, has now started operations in Argentina according to Buda CEO Pablo Chavez.

He said:

“And in a country where inflation is extremely high, the value of other alternative currencies is greater. In the same way that you can hedge with gold at times of volatility, you can do the same with cryptocurrencies.”

Argentina’s increasing inflation and currency crisis are pushing many people into cryptocurrencies with the country seen as a major player in the South American region in the digital currency world. The country’s government is also relaxing the rules for cryptocurrencies to take pressure off of the national peso fiat currency.

HSBC and ING announce successful working of R3 blockchain platform: R3’s new blockchain platform Corda has been making headlines in recent times and now it is here again as two banking conglomerates HSBC and ING bank announced that they used the tech to oversee a transaction of soybeans from Argentina. The transaction included a letter of credit between the two banks as well that was delivered directly from the R3 Corda platform.

The move sees increasing penetration of blockchain technology in the fintech industry. Monetary means of managing finances are slow and inefficient these days in addition to being insecure and vulnerable.

According to Vivek Ramachandran, HSBC’s head of growth and innovation:

“Trade finance transactions have been made simpler, faster, more transparent and more secure. The need for paper reconciliation is removed because all parties are linked to the platform and updates are instantaneous. The quick turnaround could mean unlocking liquidity for businesses.”

Brazil

Survey finds diminishing interest in cryptocurrencies: According to a detailed survey by Dalia Research, the global interest in cryptocurrencies may be cooling down, including in Brazil. The survey was conducted on over 29,000 people in eight countries including US, UK, Germany, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, and India.

While the awareness regarding cryptocurrencies is increasing, fewer Google searches regarding Bitcoin and lower crypto wallet growth shows that the interest from newcomers may be cooling down in Brazil.

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