The once richest country in the region, now on its knees, is the latest nation to experience hyperinflation within our lifetime.
The value of Venezuelan bolívar went down some 800% in October and is projected to go down another 2,000% or more this year.
“People are compelled to endure long lines at cash machines to withdraw maximum amounts equivalent to about 10 cents,” the New York Times reports.
Money in Venezuela is a matter of survival for the paper itself is worthless and basic resources, such as food, are in short supply.
As such, Venezuelans in wealthier countries are finding creative ways to feed their families back home. Some are using Bitcoin Cash specifically, a crypto that is widely promoted as actual cash that can act like real money and a currency.
“His family is in Venezuela, and he was planning to get the S9 up and running quickly so he could get food to them via BCH. He would later tell me that he may try to get the machine into Venezuela, but that he feared that the S9 might be confiscated or taxed so heavily that it would destroy any possible ROI,” a Bitcoin Casher says telling a story of selling a US based Venezuelan an S9 miner.
The Venezuelan could have of course bought BCH directly with those funds, but in a country with strict capital controls where bitcoin miners are required to be registered with the state, privacy might be an important consideration.
Moreover, it may well be that mining could provide more long term gradual income, although it can be a risky business due to difficulty increases. However, in a country where max ATM withdrawals are worth only ten cent, an S9 might go some way.
And because this oil rich country is so poor, transaction fees matter considerably. That makes Bitcoin Core unusable as a currency, although it might still pay off as an investment. While Bitcoin Cash’s very low fees may allow it to act just like ordinary money.
To do so is a chicken and egg problem. Merchants have to accept it for payments, but either due to unfamiliarity or because few customers have BCH, only a very limited number does. While in turn customers can’t spend it if merchants do not accept it.
The process thus is gradual, with a merchant here or there operating on BCH as well as on more traditional currencies, potentially so gaining a competitive advantage, leading to others copying, until suddenly it’s everywhere.
As BCH scales on-chain to considerable levels, with its supporters preferring usability which they think would increase the number of users/nodes and thus decentralization, the currency could potentially even handle gradual country level demand while keeping fees very low.
That’s because they are of the view that many more transactions at very low fees is far better than few transactions at very high fees. Equally, they believe that paying say $1,000 for a node is far better than paying $1,000 for one transaction.
Arguably thus BCH has the capacity, but is demand really there? The currency, while in many ways very old, did not really exist until five months ago, yet still has recently been processing some 100,000 transactions a day.
It is also now being incorporated within the infrastructure of developing countries. ZebPay, India’s largest crypto wallet, exchange and broker, just announced they are adding Bitcoin Cash.
While Philippine’s Coins.ph, a remittance like crypto service that allows you to even pay bills in BTC, is prioritizing Bitcoin Cash support. “We (and our customers) have had enough with these fees,” its CEO says, referring to bitcoin.
Remittance is one industry through which BCH’s money function can be employed. That’s because although some services instantly convert it to fiat, individuals/merchants learn about the currency in the process and its qualities, with some then using/accepting it directly.
After all, if you can pay for bread with BCH rather then turning BCH into dollars first then pay for bread, there is no reason why you wouldn’t do the former and save in fees in the process.
In fact many did for bitcoin as a snowball effect was in process in 2013 and begun really taking off in 2014, but with Blockstream developers preventing a capacity increase, that was stopped in its tracks.
Bitcoin Cash now hopes to take off where bitcoin left in 2014, with its supporters once more singing the Anthem, rallying towards actually using bitcoin, rather than just speculating on centralized exchanges.
And the use cases are numerous. The most obvious one is as an alternative to badly managed currencies, but less obvious could be international commerce. That’s because BCH could act as a hedge between currencies, thus if the dollar falls against the pound, if one is in BCH, they might not be affected.
BCH of course has its own volatility, but that might be primarily because it is not used as a unit of account. In a world where 1BCH = 1BCH and goods are priced in BCH, then temporary volatility against fiat might not matter.
Can it however achieve such aim? Arguably the reason bitcoin rose to where it is today, is primarily because of that aim, something many Bitcoin Core supporters are likely very aware as shown by the fact bitcoin.org continues to mislead by stating bitcoin is fast and cheap when they know full well neither is true.
There were studies back in 2014 to show bitcoin’s main benefit is cheap value transfers, something which no longer applies for BTC, but does for BCH.
The suggestion was that this appeals to price conscious consumers, but then with gradual incremental improvements, the infrastructure becomes sufficiently desirable for everyone else too.
Today’s crypto world is quite different to where some envision it could be. If we imagine a world where you can pay directly for goods with BCH, including bread and milk, then buying something from say China could be even cheaper as there would be no currency conversion fees and as good as no transfer fees.
That might not matter for one transaction, but if we add millions or even billions, then the savings become very real, and where margins are tight, it could even tip an unprofitable company to be profitable or a just slightly profitable company to be very profitable.
Competitive pressure then kicks in. If other merchants don’t jump on the bandwagon then they might be left behind. So a snowball effect goes into action.
This would be take two. Bitcoin was very close but it might be Bitcoin Cash that actually gets there. And if it does, things like hyperinflation may well become a matter for the past, a curiosity for history books.
Because in a world where all you need is a smartphone to have the financial world on your finger tips without any intermediary and without requiring anyone’s permission, so much inefficiency can be reduced. Moving those “rent seeking” costs towards productive use and in the process considerably increasing global and national wealth.
Whether we will see this world time will tell, but it is the dream of many, because much of it looks obvious now that the intellectual underpinnings have been articulated during the past 50 years.
For the regulator of the free market, money, must itself be regulated by the free market. And the only way it can do so is by competing for your currency to be used and accepted.
Thus the pound, the dollar, or the bolívar, might no longer have supremacy within national borders. With BCH or other crypto so keeping them in check. In the process, potentially making impossible situation where the richest country in the region is reduced to the poorest due only to the decision of some central banking committee.
Whether that will indeed be the case and whether it will actually work remains to be seen, but the underpinnings seem sound and could well be a solution to many problems, so it has to be tried.