El Salvador’s Bitcoin (BTC) adoption has triggered a digital asset revolution in Latin America, and the region could benefit even more if people can exchange cryptocurrencies, fiat money and the upcoming central bank digital currencies (CBDC) on the same infrastructure, said the head of multicurrency investment platform Uphold.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Uphold CEO JP Thieriot underscored that the nature of life in Latin America begs for Bitcoin-based use cases, saying the region will benefit the most as crypto adoption continues to grow.
Venezuela and Colombia are the two most prominent crypto adopters in the region besides El Salvador. However, other nations are closing the gap rather quickly, with El Salvador acting as a catalyst, Thieriot explained. Of Uphold’s 7 million users, 1.4 million originate from Latin America, and the high adoption rate in the region continues to attract global players.
Bitcoin would be embraced first by the unbanked and those who send or receive remittances, he said. However, CBDCs would become more popular than the largest cryptocurrency for merchants. “Many businesses may understandably prefer something stable for transactions, but investment portfolios would be much more benefited by Bitcoin,” he added.
“With the appropriate channels in place to convert between Bitcoin, U.S. dollars and any potential CBDCs, users could really just use whichever form of currency works best for their use case.”
Speaking of CBDCs, Thieriot noted that not every country needs to make its own digital currency, as it would be easy to adopt an existing one. He added that the main goal for Latin American countries should be a functional system where anyone in the region could simply exchange between assets.
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As Thieriot mentioned, Latin America has enjoyed significant growth in crypto funding in 2021. Mexican cryptocurrency exchange Bitso became the first crypto unicorn of the region thanks to a $250-million Series C capital raise in May.
Mercado Bitcoin, a Brazilian crypto exchange, also completed a mega-funding round, securing $200 million in SoftBank financing. “That’s fantastic, and we expect many more are coming,” Thieriot commented, adding:
“Seeing as banking the unbanked is one of the main philosophical and practical pillars of cryptocurrency, this could mean offering people, for the first time, access to financial services that rival or surpass anything in the legacy system.“
This means families who are dependent on remittances don’t have to see 10%–20% of their income siphoned off by money transfer companies, Thieriot continued. “This means that literally, anyone can begin building an investment portfolio. It will basically change the standard of living.”