Venezuela's bitcoin market continues to grow and now wants physical cards
"I don't think adoption in Venezuela will stop," says Antonio emphatically. Indeed, the momentum that led to the interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the South American country has slowed down. For some, much of that has to do with the emergence of hyperinflation, although the pandemic may also have played a role in this change.
As a Venezuelan on national territory, Antonio Di Caprio found an alternative in cryptocurrencies. He is the founder and director of Gulf. In his own words, this "crypto-financial services suite is focused on the usability of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment," in his own words. DiCaprio believes that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are here to stay. In the world, yes, but particularly in the Venezuelan economy. The thing is that, despite the wide circulation of the dollar and moderately of cryptocurrencies, the bolivar is still the legal tender in Venezuela. As a result, and especially in the digital or point-of-sale environment, it is still the preferred means of payment.
Over the last few years, Venezuela has had a kind of dollarization. Or we understand that our currency is affected by various economic issues. So, Venezuelans learned that they had to take refuge in stronger currencies. Mainly the dollar. But we also learned that we could take shelter without needing them to be fiat currencies. And that is where cryptocurrencies came in.
Antonio Di Caprio, founder and director of Glufco
From bolivars to digital dollars, and viceversa
That is why Glufco needs a vice versa conversion ramp. It is a bridge by which Venezuelans can quickly move from one system to another. "If you are in Venezuela, that ramp with bolivars can be automatic: you deposit bolivars, report in the system, and automatically you already have the dollars in your account. And vice versa." Although it is also a centralized service, unlike P2P peer-to-peer trading on platforms such as those of some widely used exchanges in the country (Binance, LocalBitcoins, for example), in Glufco, the system is automated. It has a direct connection with the local bank.
They even have a ramp with the mobile payment system, a tool widely used in Venezuela for instant settlement of payments between banks, much faster than a traditional bank transfer. Also, it is possible to deposit bitcoin to obtain digital dollars. Currently, their version of the digital dollar is the platform's GLF token, although they are migrating liquidity to the stable coin tether, USDT, a step that is just a few weeks away. The latter is thanks to their participation in the broker programs of Binance and Bitfinex, two of the world's leading exchanges. Once on the platform, users can access services such as text message transfers to other users within Glufco. Once the migration to USDT is ready, it will also be possible to make payments with the stable coin outside its system, either to private wallets or exchanges.
Glufco provides Venezuelans with this ramp to convert bolivars to digital dollars more straightforward and perhaps a little safer way. Because in P2P, you are also at risk of scams to third parties, talking to other people, giving information to those third parties.
Antonio Di Caprio, founder of Glufco
Operating in Venezuela regulation
Likewise, Di Caprio alleges that platforms widely used in the country are not directly regulated in Venezuela, making it more difficult to resort to the authorities in case of any problem. "And when you operate on platforms within the country that are framed within the jurisdiction, there are certain points of trust of doing the registration and KYC," he says. Because, unlike those other platforms, Glufco is a Venezuelan company, with all that implies. "It is a company with 100% Venezuelan capital and shareholders, and 100% of the workers are Venezuelan and live in Venezuela. The entire structure is made up of Venezuelans," he reiterates. This provides security in the event of any inconvenience in any operation and has also allowed Glufco to offer services to which foreign companies would not have access. Especially those related to domestic banking.
We achieved API connection with the national banking system. We have a payment button from Banco de Venezuela, and we have the possibility of obtaining and settling money through API by the mobile payment system of the national bank. Only in 5 seconds. For an additional cost of 0.5%-1% of what you could save in a P2P.
Antonio Di Caprio, direct from Glufco
Mass payments and international cards
The focus that Antonio constantly talks about is solving usability problems for Venezuelans daily. This includes the transition from one currency to another and the possibility of making purchases daily. With this in mind, Glufco has turned to international cards. First, developing the e-card, which we reported a few weeks ago in CryptoNews. This prepaid card (Visa or MasterCard) allows making purchases on websites and countless platforms inside and outside Venezuela.
It has already been tested by users on Netflix, Amazon, internal delivery services such as Pedidos Ya or transportation services such as Ridery; educational services such as Platzi; or online services for content creators such as Canva. However, having launched the e-card, they are going for more. They are planning to launch a card very similar to the e-card, but physical, which will allow all of the above, in addition to making payments at points of sale in the country, and is used for consumption outside Venezuela in case of travel. The other, also physical, would be directly connected to the national bank and used for consumption within the country, without the need for recharges, now against the balance available in Glufco. As if it were another bank within the country.
On the other hand, it is possible to make mass payments within this application. Whether for payroll (a company to its employees) or for any other use, a user can make several payments without making each one individually. This service, which has no additional cost beyond transaction fees, is available to anyone upon request within the system. It is not by default to avoid overwhelming the user who does not want to use it, but approval is simple.
Venezuela continues to seek bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
In the same vein of seeking more and more solutions, Glufco is even considering integration with a point-of-sale supplier so that stores can receive USDT directly when selling their products. As with the two cards above, this is still in the pipeline, pending permits, adjustments, and other developments for the company and the equipment supplier.
Meanwhile, Di Caprio is convinced that the country still needs this type of solution, despite a specific economic stabilization that keeps people away from cryptocurrencies. He mentioned an event held at the end of January in the country, the Caracas Bitcoin Experience. In his opinion, an event like that showed that there is still a lot of interest in this world in the country.