Puerto Rico is sick. A government-mandated freeze in the price of condoms, because of an explosion in the number of cases of the Zika virus, exposes at least that much. Unfortunately, the island territory is also afflicted by a second, even more dangerous disease, one that will require much more than some latex protection to stop.
That is not to say that the Zika virus is a laughing matter. The disease is currently sweeping across South America, and, when found in pregnant women, has been shown to cause birth defects in up to 30% of offspring, some of which are fatal. The problem is that the government’s solution to fighting this sexually-transmitted disease is part of an economically-transmitted virus.
Puerto Rico’s deadlier disease
According to its own governor, Puerto Rico is in a “death spiral,” though “in need of a visit to the health clinic” might be a more appropriate metaphor. Its nine-year recession is only the tip of the problem. School enrollment is shrinking, the housing market is in a slump, and the government’s coffers are empty. With the economy in such bad shape, coupled with the island’s $70 billion in debt, it’s no wonder many of its citizens are trying to pull out.
Bitcoin can offer protection
Puerto Rico’s economy needs to invest in proper protection, just as its people must too, and Bitcoin could do the trick.
Firstly, a significant portion of its citizens remain unbanked, providing an opportunity for cryptocurrency to enter and stimulate their transaction potential. Secondly, Bitcoin’s value doubled over the course of 2015, meaning that if Puerto Ricans had held it instead of dollars during that time, their wallets would not be experiencing size issues today. Finally, an additional tax on all peer-to-peer transactions, caused by PayPal pulling out of Puerto Rico last November, leaves an opening for Bitcoin to insert itself into the market.
Puerto Rico may have instituted a price freeze to keep condom prices from exploding, but it has left its economy exposed, creating a messier problem than the Zika virus. Thankfully, it’s not too late to see a doctor for a prescription of cryptocurrency adoption. Condoms in the island territory might be artificially cheap, but using Bitcoin is free.