Why is cryptocurrency so big in Latin America?

According to a survey by Statista, Latin America has the most crypto currency users in the world. So why is cryptocurrency so popular, and what does it mean for the region?

Latin America (LatAm) continues to see rising adoption of cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology. The region has the largest number of cryptocurrency users in the world according to a report published last year by statistics portal Statistica, with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Columbia all making the top ten. Adoption in western Europe, the US and Japan on the other hand, was very low.

The region's fast adoption of cryptocurrencies in part stems from the financial crises that have plagued countries like Argentina and Brazil in recent years - making the related risks less of a deterrent. In addition, more than half of those living in LatAm currently don't have easy access to banking services but do have a mobile phone and access to WiFi, meaning that using a cryptocurrency could be considered simpler than trying to open a bank account.

Drivers of adoption

"Blockchain is growing fast in Latin America," says Ingacio Perrone, ICT research director at Frost & Sullivan. "We identify the drivers to be technical benefits inherent to blockchain, support for blockchain development in open source organisations and success cases appearing in different verticals, which is helping to increase awareness."

NGOs and events such as LaBITconf; an annual conference launched back in 2013, are indeed helping drive awareness agrees Connie Gallippi, founder and executive director of non-profit organisation BitGive.

"I think much of the knowledge base and growth in awareness is due to the efforts of LaBIT conf, which focuses on spreading the awareness and knowledge of cryptocurrency and blockchain throughout Latin America. It's the longest-running Bitcoin conference and the event moves to a different location within Latin America each year, working hard with each local community," she says.

Use cases

To continue reading this article register now