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

Paxful reveals plans to appeal to Venezuela’s unbanked: Cryptocurrency exchange Paxful is working to bring cryptocurrencies to Venezuela’s unbanked market.

Paxful revealed to CoinDesk that the cryptocurrency exchange and startup is looking to open an office in inflation-affected Venezuela in September despite significant problems standing in its way. The launch will be accompanied by the release of an Android app in October.

According to Paxful co-founder Ray Youssef, the demand for cryptocurrencies is increasing in the developing world where mobile phones are abundant. He said:

“Underbanked, unbanked or people in a desperate situation, such as with market inflation. Those are the markets where Paxful can add the most value and where Bitcoin actually adds the most value for people.”

Africa, the world’s largest unbanked continent, is already Paxful’s biggest market with hundreds of thousands of cryptocurrency trades reported each month, with particular popularity in Nigeria and Ghana. Paxful is looking to target the underbanked population suffering from hyperinflation in these countries. 

The new office will conduct market research on local users and will provide an inflation-free cryptocurrency alternative to the local community. Youssef continued:

“If you just want to buy some eggs or groceries for your family in Venezuela you have to go through this very painful, long and drawn out process… You can’t use cash, because cash is scarce and if you’re lucky enough to actually have cash you can get a 50% discount.”

Venezuelan Redditor launches movement after using crypto donations to buy 400 kg of food: A Venezuelan Redditor who successfully undertook a crowdfunded initiative to use cryptocurrencies for delivering food to friends and family in the hyperinflation-struck country is looking to turn it into a movement.

Reddit users donated 29.1 NANO tokens worth USD 67.2 at the time, The Redditor, going by the username Windows 7733, used the donation to buy over 100kg of food. Later on, a further 61 NANO were donated and used to buy 300kg of food, bringing the total to 400kg of food distributed through this drive. The Redditor now wants to turn it into a national movement to overcome alarming levels of nutrition deficits in the country.

The user wrote:

“Forty families were benefited from this donation and it’s amazing how they are reacting when they are told about cryptocurrencies, many of them, for my surprise, already know what cryptocurrencies are but haven’t been able to have none for themselves, others were just skeptic or simply didn’t care [about] anything but the food until I talked to them about how this campaign is helping them.”

Venezuela is in the midst of a financial crisis that has depreciated its currency by 99% over the course of last year alone. Cryptocurrencies offer a respite for the inflation struck people in the country.

Brazil

Police bust gang using Bitcoin to launder drug money: The Brazilian Federal Police has busted 12 people connected to a drug cartel that used bitcoin to launder millions of dollars across Europe, Asia and Africa according to local news channel Folha de Sao Paulo.

The operation came after the authorities seized over four tons of cocaine from the ports in Brazil that were due to be shipped to the three continents. According to the Federal Police delegate Carlos Eduardo Thome:

“The gang received part of its payments in virtual currencies to make them difficult to track, and to avoid getting their massive and atypical money movements detected.”

While cryptocurrencies are used in the drug trade, there is a wide consensus that fiat money laundering is equally, if not more, involved in the drug businesses.

Chile

Chilean crypto exchanges win case against state bank: Cryptocurrency exchange Orionx has won a major case against a big bank Banco Estado in Chile, according to latest reports from the South American nation.

The legal battle came in the result of a March 2018 tussle in which Banco Estado closed down the accounts of the users registered with Orionx cryptocurrency exchange. Orionx immediately challenged the decision in the appeals courts in the country against this illegal move. In its defence, the bank said that it had decided to close down the accounts due to regulatory unclarity but the court decided against the bank due to it overstepping its authority.

Eight more banks had also closed their doors to cryptocurrency exchanges and are awaiting decisions regarding them.

Argentina

Bitcoin activists use La Bitcoineta to raising Bitcoin awareness across Argentina: Bitcoin activists in Argentina are working to educate and create awareness through a mobile unit travelling throughout the country.

The Argentinian group has formed what they call the La Bitcoineta, a Bitcoin-stylized educational van for cryptocurrencies. The group said that their objective is to develop technologies that are changing the world.

According to the news piece, it is an “initiative to generate bridges between those who are developing the technologies that will change the world and the different productive, social, cultural, and economic ecosystems”.

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