Bitso Rolls Out Crypto QR Payment Tool in Argentina

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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Honduras Establishes Bitcoin Valley in Santa Lucia to Boost Crypto Opportunities

Honduras has entered the cryptocurrency trend after launching “Bitcoin Valley” in Santa Lucia meant to spur more opportunities in the digital asset space, according to Reuters. 

As a result, the tourist town of Santa Lucia has shifted to a Bitcoin city because business owners are adopting crypto payments to boost tourism.


Cesar Andino, the manager of Los Robles shopping square, pointed out:

“It will open more opportunities and attract more people who want to use this currency.”

Santa Lucia is strategically located because it is just 20 minutes from the nation’s capital Tegucugalpa.


The “Bitcoin Valley” project was jointly developed by Santa Lucia’s municipality, the Technological University of Honduras, the Guatemalan cryptocurrency exchange consortium Coincaex, and the Blockchain Honduras organization. 


Therefore, the initiative will initially target 60 businesses to be trained about cryptocurrencies and how to use them as marketing tools for their services and products. The project is expected to be rolled out to more enterprises in Santa Lucia and nearby areas. 


Ruben Carbajal Velazquez, a professor at the Technological University, welcomed the “Bitcoin Valley” concept and said:

“Santa Lucia’s community will be educated to use and manage cryptocurrencies, implementing them in different businesses in the region and generating crypto-tourism.”

Since El Salvador accepted Bitcoin as legal tender in September last year, crypto interest in Latin America has soared.


For instance, a recent study by Mastercard disclosed that more than 50% of consumers in Latin America were participating in crypto transactions. The payments giant pointed out:

“51% of consumers in the region have already made a transaction with crypto assets, and more than a third say they have made a payment for an everyday purchase with stablecoin.”

Therefore, Latin Americans see cutting-edge technologies like crypto as an ideal payment option.

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Brazilian Senate Committee on Economic Affairs Approves Crypto Regulation Bill

Crypto regulation on Brazilian soil gained steam after the senate’s economic affairs committee approved a bill, highlighting the ground rules and day-to-day usage of digital currency funds. - 2022-02-23T153625.960.jpg

The committee passage is crucial in the legislative process because the bill awaits a vote on the Senate floor. If it sees the light of day, the final stages will entail approval by the lower house and signing into law by President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Per the announcement:

“Under the proposal, the federal government decides which body will be responsible for regulating business with cryptocurrencies.”

Senator Iraja Abreu, the bill’s rapporteur, noted that the mandate of regulating cryptocurrencies would be undertaken by the nation’s central bank, which played a critical role in creating the draft.

If the bill is passed into law, Brazil will emerge as the largest Latin American country to set the crypto regulation ball rolling needed to shield investors from risks and avert money laundering practices. 

Per the report:

“Virtual asset service providers must prevent money laundering and concealment of assets, while combating criminal organizations, the financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

If these rules are violated, the bill guarantees fines and imprisonment. 

Nations across the globe are gearing up to the crypto space, with El Salvador already having set foot in the Bitcoin sector by making the leading cryptocurrency legal tender in September last year. Some of the benefits prompted by this move entail El Salvador’s tourism sector surging by 30% as more foreign visitors continue flocking the nation.

On the other hand, Ukraine recently legalized Bitcoin, and this move was seen as a stepping stone towards opening the nation’s doors to crypto companies. 

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Argentinians Seek Shelter in Crypto, while Local Inflation Surges over 50%

Annual inflation rates have been going through the roof in Argentina by surging more than 50%. Argentinians, therefore, have resorted to transacting in cryptocurrencies to tame runaway prices.

Lemon Cash, a crypto exchange, is aiding in these efforts by offering Bitcoin reward cards that were first rolled out in November, according to Bloomberg.

Franco Bianchi, the chief marketing officer at Lemon Cash, stated:

“Latin America is a good place for these services. Several of the countries have unstable economies and devalued currencies, and the people seek access to cryptocurrencies as a refuge.”

The demand for the Visa cards, which convert the stipulated cryptocurrency to pesos when making payments, is so high that Lemon Cash intends to increase issuance to three million this year. 

Initially, the crypto exchange had rolled out 100,000 cards, with each purchase guaranteeing the cardholder a 2% cashback in Bitcoin. 

The report noted:

“While the cards have been seen as a marketing tool elsewhere, they’re being used in the nation to help temper the impact of surging prices. Argentines fear and seek cover against an accelerating inflation rate that is already the fourth highest in the world, after Venezuela, Lebanon and Zimbabwe.”

The inflation rate on Argentinian soil does not seem to be slowing down because economists speculate it will hit 55% this year from the present 50.7%. 

The issuance of crypto cards is in high gear in the region, with Ripio, a digital wallet provider, having at least three million users, mainly in Brazil and Argentina. 

Therefore, crypto usage is speculated to continue rising in Argentina because cryptocurrency is deemed a hedge against a cyclical economic crisis that includes hyperinflation, recession, and repeated currency devaluations. 

Meanwhile, Bitcoin miners in Argentina are thriving because of ultra-low utility rates and a surge in capital controls. 

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Top Latin American exchange Bitso officially expands to Colombia

Bitso, a major Latin American cryptocurrency exchange and El Salvador’s crypto wallet assistant firm, has announced its formal launch in Colombia.

As part of Bitso’s development strategy in Colombia, the exchange has hired former Mastercard executive Emilio Pardo as new country manager, the firm announced to Cointelegraph on Thursday.

Pardo is former head of business development for the Andean Region at Mastercard, where he focused on fintech issues like instant and cross-border financial transactions and open banking. He will now be responsible for developing Bitso’s strategy in Colombia to increase the local crypto adoption and financial inclusion, focusing on Bitso’s strategic basics including education and security.

According to Pardo, Latin America is now going through one of the most important moments in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, and Colombia is not an exception. The growing crypto adoption will not only benefit Colombia’s financial ecosystem, but will also help educate and address the needs of our customers and fellow citizens, he noted.

Bitso’s Colombian operations are regulated by a major local financial authority, the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia, or SFC. According to the announcement, the SFC granted Bitso with authorization to operate within la Arenera, the regulatory framework of its sandbox and crypto pilot program in late 2021.

Under this framework, Bitso started working in partnership with Colombia’s first commercial bank, Banco de Bogotá, in 2021 to trial the exchange’s products and services.

“As an end-to-end regulated crypto platform, we can ensure that this opportunity is putting Colombia at the forefront of innovation and regulation,” Pardo said. He added that the crypto exchange is testing its products within a regulation framework that takes into consideration the entire ecosystem of financial services, including banks, exchanges, regulators and end users.

Related: Colombia clamps down on crypto tax evasion as adoption thrives

Founded in 2014 in Mexico, Bitso is one of the biggest crypto exchanges in Latin America, allowing users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The exchange has been growing massively in recent years, expanding to Argentina in February 2020 and then entering Brazil in April 2021.

The exchange is also present in El Salvador, which officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in September 2021. Bitso specifically cooperated with Silvergate to facilitate United States dollar transactions for El Salvador’s official Bitcoin (BTC) wallet, Chivo wallet, at launch.