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Can Cryptocurrency Save Colombia From an Economic Downturn?

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The violence in Colombia associated with anti-government protests in April and May serves as a warning sign that the Colombian government might not have the power or authority to avoid a serious economic downturn – or worse, a debt crisis. This scenario is causing Colombians to reconsider how to manage their assets.

The country’s financial regulator, Superfinanciera, recently authorized a 12-month pilot program that will allow Colombians to operate cash-in and cash-out actions via Movvi and Bitpoint. Users of the platform will be able to exchange, transfer and operate using either Colombian Pesos or crypto.

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How Colombia is accelerating crypto adoption in the country

The Chilean crypto exchange Buda.com reported that crypto trading volume in Colombia during the first quarter of 2021 surpassed the entire volume traded in 2020. Additionally, Chainalysis ranked Colombia at number 9 out of the 10 countries likely to adopt crypto.

Twenty-three percent of Colombia’s population remains unbanked, or outside the formal financial ecosystem. In the past, Colombian crypto-adoption has been led by migrants interested in digital currencies for efficiently transferring cash through non-traditional channels. With rising debt and an ever-increasing fiscal deficit, a paradigm shift is underway as more Colombians consider parking their assets into cryptocurrency spaces.

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Colombia is a prime example of a country with a weak government where crypto adoption can be disruptive and revolutionary. Thus, Colombians may very likely view crypto as a hedge to traditional currency and its uncertainties. As socioeconomic fear drives interest in cryptocurrencies, those fears are also manifesting in the form of protests and even violent clashes between Colombian citizens and military forces.

Colombia, like other Latin American nations, was hit hard by Covid-19 and, with a limited cash transfer program in place, the government found it nearly impossible to provide relief when the pandemic hit.

The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back? President Iván Duque’s support of tax reform.

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Ingreso Solidario’s impact drove more Colombians to use crypto

Although Duque’s 2018 center-right populist platform campaign appeared fairly vanilla, Covid-19 forced him to do the unthinkable with the rollout of “Ingreso Solidario,” a government financial support program designed to help the country’s poorest population of three million people, which amounts to roughly 6% of the country’s total population. The issue involved how the government was going to pay for the proposed financial support.

The President’s tax proposal to cover the financial support program increased taxes by 1.5% – the exact opposite of his presidential campaign promise. Colombia’s worsening debt and fiscal deficit led to a drop in its S&P Global Ratings from BBB-minus to BB-plus, forcing Duque to withdraw the bill.

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Which brings us back to why Colombia is a potentially fast-growing market for cryptocurrency adoption. The widespread protests and violence in Colombia are warning signs that the Colombian government might not possess the power or authority to stave off a serious economic downturn or debt crisis. Indeed, in May and June, the Colombian government couldn’t even keep the country’s most important Pacific-facing port at Buenaventura – through which 32% of Colombian exports (mainly coffee and sugar) passed last year – open. If the people have lost faith in the government, how soon till they lose faith in the currency?

As more Colombians use crypto, the government is creating rules and issuing crypto tax guidelines and anti-money-laundering regulations. Additionally, Colombia’s Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia recently launched a year-long experiment that allows nine firms to deposit and withdraw resources on behalf of crypto platforms. This is a clever and necessary move by the Colombian government, which may serve as a model for other nations as the trend toward cryptocurrency continues to grow. Whether it is enough, however, remains to be seen.

In this sense, Colombia is a microcosm of a much broader story about Latin America’s affinity for cryptocurrencies. A recent Visa survey found that 25% of credit card users in Latin America are eager to use cryptocurrencies. Stock market darling Mercado Libre is even letting customers buy real estate with Bitcoin. The difference is that in Colombia, crypto might be more than a trendy fad,  Colombians look for ways to protect their wealth in a deteriorating political environment.

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Sune Hojgaard Sorensen, co-managing director & member of the board for The Strategic Funds, Sune brings 20 years of business and professional investment experience across asset classes, investor segments and geographical locations to his work with The Strategic Funds. Sune is the founder of an independent macro research company that provides distinct insights on global trends and related investment risks and opportunities. He is a partner with a US-based think tank focused on research and advice for leaders in both the public and private sectors.

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Here’s How Crypto Investment Helped Facebook Whistleblower

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Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower currently in the headlines revealed she has crypto to thank for her survival during her refuge in Puerto Rico. Haugen is a former Facebook product manager who quit over the social media giant’s incompetence to stop misinformation and unethical trade practice.

Haugen also claimed to possess sensitive documents that show Facebook prioritized profits over well being of users. She said,

“Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users.”

Facebook’s unethical practices are nothing new, and it has been fined on numerous occasions for not putting enough measures to curb Facebook-linked violence in various countries. A recent report also accused Facebook of fueling communal tensions in India leading to the death of 53 people.

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During her recent with Washington Post, Haugen was also asked about her finances and how she managed to remain active post-Facebook exit. Haugen thanked her auspicious crypto investments and said,

“For the foreseeable future, I’m fine, because I did buy crypto at the right time.”

She also revealed that the shift to Puerto Rico helped her get in touch with crypto friends that led her to make crypto investments.

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Bitcoin and Crypto Remains Primary Choice of Whistleblowers

Haugen is not the first whistleblower who has found a friend in crypto at the right time. The decentralized nature and censorship resistance help crypto become a tool for revolution. During last year’s protest in Hong Kong, protestors turned to Bitcoin when the government cut banking facilities for these protestors

Similarly, Edward Snowden, one of the most popular whistleblowers has been seen advocating for Bitcoin time and again. Apart from whistleblowers, Bitcoin has also come to the rescue of financially challenged nations and those suffering due to international trade sanctions.

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Billion-Dollar Real Estate Firm To Accept Crypto for Ownership Shares of Second Homes

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Pacaso, a real estate platform focused on second homes, is now supporting cryptocurrency payments.

The startup, which reached $1 billion in valuation months after its launch in October 2020, partnered with crypto payment service provider BitPay to allow clients to buy ownership shares in second homes using digital assets. 

In a statement, the firm says that homebuyers can settle down payments using crypto and then pay the rest of the balance using fiat and cryptocurrency. Supported coins include Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dogecoin (DOGE), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) and five USD-pegged stablecoins.

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Pacaso’s co-founder and CEO Austin Allison says the firm’s new payment option is in response to the growing popularity of crypto and blockchain in the real estate industry. 

“Crypto payment option is a recurring topic in our conversations with prospective buyers of second homes.

As we expand internationally and put second-home co-ownership within reach for more people across the globe, we’re thrilled to be able to respond to that demand and extend as many payment options as we can to our customers.”

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BitPay CEO Stephen Pair says they are seeing a growing number of large purchases like real estate being paid in crypto. 

“The market potential for crypto is huge, with $55 Billion as the estimated value of purchases consumers will make using cryptocurrency in the next 12 months.”

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What is the purpose of cryptocurrency? Young folks discuss what pulls them to fictitious money

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Cryptocurrency has had a bit of a renaissance recently. But how does it stack up against more traditional investment strategies, and why are so many young people interested in it?

What exactly is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency has had a bit of a renaissance.

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Over the last decade, digital currency has progressed from being something solely discussed in the shadows of the internet to a major market mover and viable payment alternative. But what exactly is it? Why is it important to sell bitcoin in Dubai.

In a nutshell, Bitcoin is just another way to save money and pay for goods. “Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services,” according to Nerd Wallet.

Seems fairly straightforward, doesn’t it?

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Blockchain technology is used to power cryptocurrency. This system is distributed and decentralized, with computers all around the world recording and managing transactions. Unlike typical banking systems, these transactions may be performed anonymously, which adds to their allure.

This year, in particular, has pushed digital money to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. After shocking the investment world in January by successfully raising GameStop’s stock to 10 times its expert value, Reddit stock traders went on to a new project: making a joke turned cryptocurrency soar.

Dogecoin, a digital token designed as a joke, has attracted a large number of traders and supporters, owing in part to Tesla Founder Elon Musk’s frequent tweets about it. People became aware of a digital currency depicting a Shiba Inu dog with strange inscriptions and phrases around its head.

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So, despite the fact that cryptocurrency has gained some popularity since, say, Bitcoin’s inception in 2009, people just began talking about it this year. Despite the debate, many people are still perplexed as to why anybody would use, let alone invest in, this new money. This is why four local young individuals chose to discuss what makes them interested in fictitious money.

Bitcoin mania has returned

Bitcoin reached a new high in early January, reaching over $42,000. According to Coin Desk, the price of the famously volatile cryptocurrency was at 32,500 on Friday morning.

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Even traditional financial organizations are warming up to the idea: In a January report, JP Morgan predicted that if bitcoin’s market value grows large enough to compete with gold, the price might reach $146,000 in the long run. (Bitcoin presently has a market capitalization of more than $600 billion.)

However, bitcoin has become more than simply a cryptocurrency for many people. Here are several behavioral and psychological explanations behind this.

Bitcoin becomes an extension of your identity

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In December, millionaire Mark Cuban told Forbes that bitcoin is “more religion than a solution to any problem.”

In reality, bitcoin enthusiasts have their own language consisting of acronyms and words ranging from “HODL” to “whale,” and (pre-Covid) bitcoin conferences drew hundreds of registrants. The crypto crow even has a favorite automobile to purchase with their bitcoin: the Lamborghini (aka Lamborghini).

“Part of the appeal is the culture surrounding bitcoin,” says Finn Breton, professor of science and technology at the University of California, Davis, and author of “Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency.”

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“When you purchase bitcoin, you’re essentially investing into an entire scene,” explains Breton. “And it’s a scene that may become a part of you.”

Though bitcoin is gaining traction among serious investors and major financial institutions, it remains a rather subversive notion, and those who engage in it may regard themselves as radicals or counterculture participants, according to Breton.

It is influenced by social media

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From celebrities investing in bitcoin to a vibrant bitcoin community on Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit, social media plays a role in bitcoin’s popularity.

Lana Swartz, associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of “New Money: How Payment Became Social Media,” tells CNBC Make It, “Suddenly, there’s like a new way to perceive, fund, and have an identity of oneself as a player in like the financial arena.”

According to Utpal Dholakia, a Rice University professor of marketing who researches consumer financial decision-making, these social networks can also influence habits. According to him, research has shown that when individuals talk about their investments in online social spaces, they tend to become more risk-seeking in the sorts of investments they make.

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“The same dynamic applies to a lot of investment decisions that are now being made,” Dholakia adds.

Volatility may be thrilling.

Many savvy investors, like Kevin O’Leary of CNBC and Jim Cramer of CNBC, have compared buying bitcoin to going to Vegas. Warren Buffett, CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has long been a sceptic of bitcoin, claiming that “cryptocurrencies fundamentally have no value” and are a “gambling instrument.”

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Conclusion

“Money is a technology that permits us to envisage different possibilities,” Swartz adds.

The enthusiasm surrounding bitcoin, particularly among young people, demonstrates that individuals feel “locked out of the capacity to hold the type of assets that would allow them to produce any form of wealth,” according to Breton. According to Federal Reserve figures, millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, held only 4.6 percent of U.S. wealth in the first half of 2020 and willing to sell bitcoin in Dubai.

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“When we look at the bitcoin craze, we really need to consider it as a manifestation of the reality that this is happening because there are no dependable, non-speculative means by which individuals who don’t already have access to a piece of capital might generate wealth over time,” he adds. “And it’s a terrible criticism of how things are now set up for young people.”

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