Bitso, Latin America’s leading crypto exchange, announced on Thursday that it is preparing to roll out a new QR code payment tool in its wallet app that will enable users in Argentina to pay with cryptocurrency at retail shops.
The new payment method is expected to give consumers an alternative to using the Argentine peso and will be beneficial in curbing the country’s inflation.
Beginning on September 27, members of the Bitso exchange in Argentina (estimated to be more than a million users in the country) will gradually be given access to the QR code option.
In a country where inflation is approaching 80% compared to last year, and the purchasing value of the peso is falling, the QR codes will give Argentina consumers another way to save money in crypto and spend it in actual stores.
Bitso’s Senior Vice President of Product Santiago Alvarado commented: “The idea is to make crypto more useful in more places and allow all citizens to live their lives in crypto by buying everyday services.”
The Bitso wallet software will be able to scan the QR codes in many stores in Argentina and give customers the choice of purchasing using Bitcoin, Ether, the Dai stablecoin, U.S.-dollar pegged stablecoins or Argentine Pesos. At the time of purchase, Bitso will automatically convert the merchant’s crypto into Argentine pesos.
Bitso’s wallet will be able to scan QR codes from “all other systems approved by the central bank,” Alvarado said.
Why the QR code surge in LATAM
QR codes are a popular payment method in Argentina – a nation that has the highest rate of QR code usage in Latin America, according to data from the Mastercard New Payments Index.
In a historically cash-based economy where a big chunk of the population remains unbanked (over 40% of Argentina residents are unbanked and in other related countries, including Colombia, Mexico, and Peru), digital payments are surging at a high rate in Latin America. QR code payments have surged in popularity, whose widespread use was significantly triggered by the covid-19 pandemic.
QR, which stands for “quick response”, — and codes can be encrypted with payment information to facilitate contactless digital purchasing. QR codes allow consumers to make payments simply by scanning the code with their smartphone camera, which then withdraws funds from their digital wallet.
Companies facilitating QR code payments in Latin America are emerging all across the region. In Argentina, companies such as Mercado Pago, TodoPago, ValePEI, Ualá, PIM, and Rapipago allow users to pay via QR codes from their digital wallets or accounts.
The Argentina Central Bank recently spurred the bandwagon, allowing several digital payment provider companies to offer QR code payments. This marks a huge step towards transforming the payment methods of a society that traditionally depends on cash.
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