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Tim Draper Urges Argentina’s President to Legalize Bitcoin to Improve Economy

American VC investor Tim Draper has met with Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri to discuss the economic prospects of the country.

Crypto bull Tim Draper has given advice to the president of Argentina to legalize Bitcoin (BTC) in order to improve the economic situation in the country, Cointelegraph en Español reports March 22.

The American venture capital investor reportedly met with Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri on March 20 to discuss the economic prospects of the Latin American country.

During the meeting, Draper spoke about the potential of emerging technologies such as blockchain and crypto for improving major problems in Argentina’s economy, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso (ARS), as well as the associated brain drain.

Cointelegraph en Español quotes Draper as saying:

“We were speaking of Bitcoin and the devaluation of the peso, and I proposed a bet: if the peso would be valued more than Bitcoin, I would double my investment that I was making for the country. But if Bitcoin gained a higher rate than the peso, they would have to declare it as a national currency. That would be a perfect decision, as there’s a lack of confidence in this coin.”

Following the meeting, Draper explained his pro-crypto stance in an interview with María Julieta Rumi, noting that he believes Bitcoin and blockchain are even a greater revolution than the internet. Draper stated that it is now a good time to adopt the technology in Argentina, arguing that this will provide complete changes in banking, commerce, and financial systems.

In the interview, Draper also reiterated his bullish stance on Bitcoin, predicting that Bitcoin will be worth $250,000 between 2022 and 2023, and will account for 5 percent of the global share of all the markets. He elaborated that as soon as people are able to easily use bitcoin, just like pesos or dollars, they will choose bitcoin because it is “decentralized and open, frictionless and global.”

In February, Draper argued that in five years, fiat money will be used only by criminals.

Meanwhile, Argentina has recently been friendly to adopting new developments in the blockchain and crypto space. In early March, the government of Argentina agreed to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by Binance Labs and Latin American crypto exchange LatamEx. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao also hinted at the establishment of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina.

In February, Argentina settled an export deal in Bitcoin, selling pesticides and fumigation products worth of $7,100 to Paraguay. The purchase was paid for in Bitcoin and then converted into Argentine pesos to settle accounts with the exporter.

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Binance CEO CZ Hints at Creation of Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Argentina

The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has alluded to a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina on Twitter.

CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has hinted at the creation of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina in a tweet sent on March 9.

The tweet was in reply to a piece published by crypto news website CoinSpice. The article in question concerned the agreement between the government of Argentina with Binance Labs, the exchange’s investment and social impact arm, to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by the exchange.

Zhao’s comment contained in the tweet apparently suggested that Binance has plans to establish a fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Argentina. More precisely, the tweet stated:

“Guess where we will have a new fiat-to-crypto exchange?”

As Cointelegraph reported in January, following reports that Binance planned to launch fiat-to-crypto exchanges in eight more countries — one of which was Argentina — a spokesperson of the exchange declined to confirm six of the alleged locations, only affirming plans for Singapore and Malta.

Also in January, the exchange had added support for credit card crypto purchases through its partnership with payment processor Simplex.

More recently, exchange and social network for investors and traders eToro launched its cryptocurrency trading services in the United States. The exchange, which reportedly has over 10 million users, will start facilitating the trade of 13 unspecified crypto assets and release a cryptocurrency multisignature wallet to customers in 32 U.S. states and territories.

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Binance Labs and Argentina’s Government Partner to Support Blockchain Adoption in the Country

In a blog post a few hours ago, the team at Binance announced that the Government of Argentina will be supporting Binance Labs development efforts in the country. The collaboration is part of the blockchain and crypto revolution in the country.

Binance Labs has held several events and meetups in the country and Argentina is an integral part of their global expansion plans. Buenos Aires is this year’s regional hub for the Binance Labs Incubation program for Latin America. The program will begin its second season this month and has picked Argentina for its role in embracing blockchain and crypto in the region.

Government Grant of Up to $50,000

Argentina’s Ministry of Production and Labor has pledged to support Binance Labs and LatamEx with its Accelerator Program. The latter is offering a grant of up to $50,000 on every project Binance Labs invests in. This pledge is valid for up t0 10 projects per year. With this deal, the Argentinian government becomes a Binance Labs partner in blockchain investments in the country.

Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, explained why Argentina is unique in furthering the adoption of blockchain technology.

Argentina is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and we’ve witnessed how it’s becoming home to some very passionate blockchain communities during our trip there.

Our mission at Binance Labs is to realize the full potential of blockchain technologies. To that end, we are very excited to support blockchain projects, entrepreneurs and developers through our Buenos Aires chapter, to advise and mentor them, to find product-market fit, and provide them with in-time access to global blockchain technology development to solve local problems.

Pablo Orlando, Founder & CEO of LatamEx and Founders Lab, also added that Latin America is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and real use cases of the technology. Argentina has become a hub for the best projects and entrepreneurs in the region. With the Binance Labs incubation program, such projects and talented individuals will have a chance to flourish.

More on Crypto and Blockchain Adoption in Argentina

The country of Argentina has accelerated adoption of crypto and blockchain as a way of working around its economy’s recession. The country has crypto ATMs and many businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments. One example of mainstream crypto adoption is the capability of topping up the country’s state public transport card, SUBE, using Bitcoin.

Recent Performance of BNB 

Further looking at the crypto markets, we find that Binance Coin (BNB) has had an amazing run in the past few days. The token is now valued at $15.37 after a recent peak of $15.56. BNB is now ranked 7th on ahead of Tether (USDT), Stellar (XLM), and Tron (TRX).

What are your thoughts on Binance Labs and the Argentinian government partnering to support blockchain projects in the country? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

The post Binance Labs and Argentina’s Government Partner to Support Blockchain Adoption in the Country appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Argentina: Government to Co-Invest in Local Blockchain Projects Backed by Binance

The government of Argentina signs a four-year agreement with Binance Labs, committing to invest in local blockchain startups.

The government of Argentina has agreed to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by Binance Labs and Latin American crypto exchange LatamEx, a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Wednesday, March 6, reveals.

Binance Labs, the investment and social impact arm of top cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has recently chosen Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, as the Latin American hub for the next season of the Binance Labs Incubation Program.

Following the decision, the country’s Ministry of Production and Labour has signed an agreement with Binance, committing to match investments of up to $50,000 in each project. According to the release, the Argentine government will fund up to 10 blockchain projects each year over a four-year term.

Investments will be funneled through Founders Lab, an Argentine blockchain accelerator.

Buenos Aires is one of the six locations of Binance Labs’ investment program, which kicks off on March 25. Other regional chapters are located in San Francisco, Berlin, Lagos, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In other crypto news from Argentina, earlier this month, the country’s official state transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) — used by over seven million people in 37 locations — started accepting Bitcoin (BTC).

Last month, Argentina also settled an agricultural chemicals export deal worth $7,100 with Paraguay, accepting the payment in BTC.

In January, United States University of California, Berkeley launched a 12-week accelerator program for early stage blockchain startups, partly sponsored by venture capital fund Berkeley X-Lab Fund.

IBM, along with Columbia University, also run two blockchain accelerator programs that aim to help startups in the crypto space. The programs form the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, a joint innovation center that was established by the tech giant and the Ivy League school in the summer of 2018.

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G20 Country Leaders Call for International Cryptocurrency Taxation

Leaders of G20 member countries have started work on an international cryptocurrency taxation system.

The G20 countries have called for the taxation of cryptocurrency, as well as its regulation to combat money laundering, Japanese news outlet reports Dec. 2.

According to, the final text of a document jointly delivered by G20 leaders calls for “a taxation system for cross-border electronic payment services.”

The article then specifies that under current laws, foreign companies that do “not have a factory or other base in Japan” cannot be taxed by the local government. The publication then cites that the G20 leaders seek to “build a taxation system for cross-border electronic services.”

The member states, which gathered this weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are reportedly at work on the system and “will consider the issue during 2019 when Japan will be the president of the summit.” A final version of regulations, after considering proposals from each member state, is reportedly expected to be in place by 2020.

As Cointelegraph reported in October, the CEO of the company behind the cryptocurrency investment app Circle had called for “normalization at the G20 level” of the crypto industry.

In July, France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire also called on the G20 to have a public debate about cryptocurrencies at this weekend’s summit.

Le Maire said that leaders will “have a discussion all together on the question of Bitcoin (BTC)” since “there is evidently risk of speculation.” He then concluded that France needs to “examine this with other G20 members” to see how “we can regulate Bitcoin.”

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Ripio Rolls Out Crypto-Powered Loans Across Latin America

Here’s something you don’t see every day: an ICO that has actually led to a shipped, working financial product.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Argentinian startup Ripio is making peer-to-peer microloans available today to all its 200,000 bitcoin wallet users in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. The Buenos Aires-based company raised $37 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) last year to build the Ripio Credit Network, which matches individual lenders and borrowers across the globe through ethereum smart contracts.

Today’s full rollout of that marketplace follows a closed beta in which more than 800 loans were facilitated to customers in Argentina. Ripio said it now has 3,000 lenders on the network, many of them located in Asia, issuing loans for up to $730, though so far the average loan size is $146.

Ripio CEO Sebastian Serrano told CoinDesk:

We have people from Asia funding people in South America, which is something you cannot do with another [app].”

Previously known as Bitpagos, Ripio is one of the longest-running startups in the crypto space, with well-established merchant processing, exchange and wallet services. It entered the credit business in 2016, lending its own funds to consumers in Argentina, before pursuing this more ambitious vision for global p2p lending.

While the borrowers receive their loans in fiat, the new network is powered by an ethereum-based token called RCN. Lenders send the funds in RCN, a cut of the tokens goes to third parties involved in the lending process – such as identity verifiers, credit scorers and co-signers of the loans – and Ripio (and, potentially, other wallet providers) converts the RCN to fiat before disbursing the money to the borrower.

Unlike most exchanges and mobile lending services, Ripio’s offerings are available to unbanked crypto users. This is essential for Latin American markets where people have diverse but overwhelmingly complicated histories with the banking industry. For example, according to World Bank statistics from 2017, around 30 percent of adults in Brazil are unbanked, compared to 54 percent in Colombia.

Although the startup doesn’t have data on how many unbanked users are on its platform, a survey of 1,000 Ripio users revealed 19 percent didn’t have a credit card. They often fund their wallets by depositing cash at convenience stores that partner with Ripio.

With the credit network, however, they now have a way to build a track record of repaying debts, which could help them obtain financial services in the future. Further, “the entire lifecycle of the credit and the loan” is contained in the smart contract on the blockchain, Serrano said.

“It gives the user credit history. Even if the marketplace disappears the code will continue to execute,” he said.

To make credit histories recorded in smart contracts widely useful, Ripio has proposed a standardized way to present claims about an identity (e.g. “Joe made all his car loan payments on time”) on ethereum. Serrano explained:

“In order for it to work across products and networks, ethereum needs to get a standard for identity claims so that every project uses one or two claim standards, kind of like we have ERC-20 [for tokens].”

Cross-border markets

Over the next year, Ripio plans to expand services to Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay.

“Every market has these different characteristics, regulations, things you have to comply with,” Serrano told CoinDesk, “Things you have to do to make it easy for users to deposit cash.”

Political instability can create roadblocks, however. For example, Ripio once operated in Venezuela and still maintains staff there, but security concerns and opaque regulations forced the startup to halt operations.

“We hope to extend service there as soon as this madness ends,” Serrano said. “It’s become very, very difficult to maintain operations in Venezuela, legally.”

In order to expand, Ripio is looking for more fiat-centric partnerships like the ones it established in Brazil with Neon Bank and Banrisul. Since users are handing over cash, Ripio needs banks for storage. Plus, expanding such partnerships in each nation could provide crucial liquidity.

Santiago Siri, the Argentinian founder of a blockchain governance project called Democracy Earth, told CoinDesk that Ripio’s partnerships are already making an impact across the continent.

For example, through its partnership with the e-commerce giant Mercado Libre, shoppers and sellers can transfer funds between their e-commerce accounts and Ripio wallets, offering new avenues for people to earn or spend crypto.

“Large populations in countries like Brazil and Mexico are unbanked,” Siri said. “So companies like Mercado Libre have to find ways to do business without credit cards. Ripio has been leading this, allowing people to do payments [indirectly] with bitcoin.”

Serrano said 15 percent of Ripio wallets’ transaction volume, millions of dollars per month, now comes from Mercado Libre. Rosine Kadamani, the founder of the educational Blockchain Academy in Brazil, praised this partnership with the largest e-commerce platform in the region, as well as Ripio’s crypto-powered loans, saying:

“When we’re trying to get people in the crypto space, it’s a good strategy to reach people where they are already comfortable… Why not provide a space for peer-to-peer loans? I see no reason at all for credit to be monopolized by banks.”

Speaking to the demand for such cross-border conduits, Siri added: “Latin America is a very fertile region for the deployment of cryptocurrency infrastructures.”

Sebastian Serrano image courtesy of Ripio

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Hyperbitcoinization: How Currency Crises Are Driving Nations to Crypto

Venezuela, Turkey, Iran and Zimbabwe: these countries are all facing ongoing economic crises. They’re suffering from high levels of inflation, and as a result the people living within them are increasingly turning to crypto as a store of value and a means of exchange. Their recent troubles have heightened the distant possibility that, at some point in the future, hyperbitcoiniztion will take place, with Bitcoin (or some other coin) replacing the bolívar, the lira, the rial and other struggling national currencies, and perhaps even becoming the world’s dominant form of money, as predicted by the likes of Steve Wozniak and Jack Dorsey.

However, as encouraging as such developments are for Bitcoin’s reputation as a store of value, it’s unlikely that the moves of Turkish, Venezuelan and Zimbabwean citizens toward it and other cryptocurrencies are an immediate precursor to the kinds of blanket adoption processes outlined in the noted 2014 “Hyperbitcoinization” article by Daniel Krawisz.  Even though they’re conspicuously increasing, the BTC volumes traded in the affected countries above are not significant enough relative to global volumes, while the isolated nature of most of these nations means that adoption has little chance of spreading outward.

Added to this, for as long as such global reserve currencies as the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen remain stable, crypto adoption won’t be boosted by high inflation in nations where the population has access to such currencies — and not to mention gold.


The textbook case of crisis-driven crypto adoption is Venezuela, with the first report on Venezuelans turning to Bitcoin arriving in October 2014. According to Reuters, Venezuelans were being driven to the cryptocurrency by the capital controls imposed by President Hugo Chavez in 2003, which made it excruciatingly hard for them to obtain U.S. dollars. Given that, even then, hyperinflation was in motion in Venezuela (at 68.5 percent), locals began purchasing — and mining — Bitcoin, which stood at $388.30 by the beginning of that October, despite having fallen by around 49 percent since the beginning of the year.

While data on the actual number of people using Bitcoin at this point isn’t available, the Reuters article states that Venezuela “already [had] at least several hundred Bitcoin enthusiasts.” Somewhat less vaguely, Coin Dance records that 625,573 Venezuelan bolívar (VEF) was traded for Bitcoin on the LocalBitcoins peer-to-peer (p2p) crypto-exchange in the week of Dec. 12, 2014, equivalent to about $99,403.55 at the conversion rate of the time. Similarly, CryptoCompare lists a high for 2014 (on Dec. 24) at VEF 553,633.30, which, at around $87,972.33, underlines how the volumes being traded weren’t massive — particularly for a nation with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $482 billion — even if they were growing as a result of economic pressures.

Volume of VEF & BTC Market

Since 2014, things have picked up gradually. In the week ending on Dec. 17, 2016, there were Bitcoin trades worth a total of VEF 527,945,763, which, due to inflation of around 275 percent in 2015, translated to $105,589.15 at then-current conversion rates. That year, individuals involved in the Venezuelan crypto-economy had begun speaking in favor of Bitcoin and other cryptos as genuine alternatives to the bolívar and even the U.S. dollar, with the founder of Bitcoin Venezuela, Randy Brito, telling Cointelegraph in January 2016 that BTC could be “a genuine savior of the Venezuelan economy.”

“The Bitcoin market in Venezuela is indeed big and growing at a fast rate. The absence of exchanges have seemingly gone unnoticed as most Bitcoin miners within the country trade informally with people they can trust — basically for reasons of privacy, as they seek to conceal their source of wealth from the public.”

Coupled with the ability Bitcoin grants Venezuelans for resisting a government that has effectively robbed people of wealth by presiding over an inflationary regime, its growing value over the course of 2015 and 2016 gained it increasing popularity. Indeed, the local Surbitcoin exchange told the Washington Post in March 2017 that the number of Bitcoin users expanded from around 450 in 2014 to 85,000 in 2016.

Once again, such numbers aren’t massive for a country with a population of approximately 31.5 million, but the deteriorating situation in Venezuela has meant that they only increased further in 2017 and 2018. For the week ending on June 24, 2017, the VEF/BTC market on LocalBitcoins alone had reached a volume of VEF 9,210,450,540, according to Coin Dance. This equated to around $1,151,306.32 at the time, while the week of Dec. 30, 2017 saw a trade volume of VEF 281,525,042,307 on LocalBitcoins — or $2,815,250.42, according to then-current black market exchange rates.

This year, even with the advent of the state-controlled and oil-backed Petro cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more generally have continued to enjoy a strong increase in usage. In fact, Reuters has recently reported that no crypto-exchanges are trading the Petro and that no Venezuelan shops currently accept it, while the likes of Bitcoin have continued to see growth. Assuming the same crude volume-to-users ration that was evident at the end of 2016 (i.e., Bitcoins worth $105,589.15 traded by around 85,000 users), there were around 926,500 Bitcoin users in the week of Aug. 18, 2018, when 673 Bitcoin was traded against 27.28 trillion Venezuelan bolívars on LocalBitcoins. At the black market exchange rate (i.e., 1 VEF = $5,921,486.23) that applied prior to the Venezuelan government officially devaluing the bolívar by 95 percent, this equalled around $4.6 million.

It’s not clear to what extent traded volumes will continue to grow now that the government has devalued the bolívar, yet the economic pressures faced by Venezuela have caused its population to adopt Bitcoin more speedily than other nations with comparable GDP. For instance, in New Zealand and Romania — two countries the International Monetary Fund (IMFputs next to Venezuela in terms of GDP — the LocalBitcoins BTC market has grown by 875 percent and 2400 percent respective since 2013. By contrast, the LocalBitcoins BTC/VEF market has grown by a staggering 67,300 percent since 2013, with 536 Bitcoin being traded in the week ending on Aug. 25. If nothing else, this underlines the kind of boost hyperinflation can give to cryptocurrency adoption. And seeing as how the IMF has predicted that inflation could reach 1,000,000 percent by the end of 2018, the boost is likely to be even bigger in the coming months.

It’s not only Bitcoin that has enjoyed the fruits of Venezuela’s economic disaster, as other cryptocurrencies have also made inroads into the South American nation. Since at least September 2016, Venezuelans have also been avid users of Dash, whose faster confirmation times and lower transaction fees generally make it more convenient as a means of payment. Buoyed by active moves on Dash’s part to promote their coin among Venezuelans as an alternative to the bolívar — and to Bitcoin — it’s reportedly the most popular cryptocurrency among local merchants — at least, according to Dash themselves — with upward of 540 merchants in the country now accepting it as a means of payment.


Iran is another country that has been on the wrong end of U.S.-led sanctions in recent years, and like Venezuela, its national currency — the rial (IRR) — is suffering from high inflation, although its current rate of 18 percent doesn’t quite match the 82,766 percent currently seen in Venezuela.

As recently as this April, the rial’s rate of inflation was only 7.9 percent, yet this jumped to 9.7 percent, 13.7 percent and then 18 percent in May, June and July. Much like Venezuela, the Iranian government responded to this precipitous increase by announcing plans in late July for a state-run cryptocurrency, while the Iranian population had by that point already traded crypto worth $2.5 billion, according to a May report from Forbes. This was despite the government having introduced an April ban on banks dealing in cryptocurrencies.

And since April and May, there has been a noticeable uptick in the IRR/BTC market on LocalBitcoins. For instance, between July 7 and July 28, the volume of this market increased by 109.1 percent, from IRR 9.467 billion to IRR 19.796 billion (i.e., to roughly $176,758.31, according to black market conversion rates).

Volume of IRR & BTC Market

By contrast, a country with a similarly sized GDP — Thailand — witnessed only a 27.6 percent increase over the same two-week period, from 12.2 million Thai baht (THB) to THB 15.6 million. That said, this latter figure equals $476.410, meaning that the BTC market is bigger in Thailand in absolute terms. More importantly, it also means that an inflation crisis alone isn’t enough to bring about widespread crypto adoption overnight, since it’s clear that the Iranian market for crypto is not only small, but is hampered by legislation that makes it illegal. It has also been undermined by the enduring popularity of gold, which rose by 300 percent against IRR in the three months leading up to June and which has reportedly replaced the U.S. dollar in local Iranian markets, according to the Iran Gold & Jewelry Association.


Another nation that has its own economic woes is Zimbabwe. In 2009, it abandoned its own national currency (the Zimbabwean dollar), doing so after a trillion-dollar note was introduced and after the currency had braved 10 years of hyperinflation — the rate of which reaching as high as 231,000,000 percent in July 2008.

Since then, the government has permitted the use of a variety of currencies — including the U.S. dollar, South African rand, and the euro — yet, this drastic measure introduces problems of its own, such as acute shortages of foreign cash. To combat this, the Zimbabwean government has been imposing capital controls, setting the latest this May, when the central bank limited the amount of USD people can withdraw from ATMs and send out of the country to $1,000.

In the face of such restrictions, Bitcoin witnessed price increases above the global average on the Zimbabwean Golix exchange at the end of 2017, with the price even doubling in November as locals sought to obtain currency that wasn’t controlled or restricted by the government. It was also in November that Golix celebrated a quadrupling of its monthly transactions, around the time when the country had been destabilized by fresh dollar shortages, 50 percent inflation — affecting the new bond notes the government introduced in November 2016 — and a military coup. Consequently, Golix saw its monthly trade volume increase to $1 million, which was an impressive feat considering that, over the entire course of 2016, it handled a grand total of $100,000.


A similar picture has emerged from more recent Turkish history, with inflation issues provoking a comparable — if not quite as dramatic — swing toward crypto. These issues first became acute when the inflation rate of the Turkish lira (TRY) climbed to 11.9 percent in October 2017, as the nation’s banks took on risky levels of private debt, as foreign investors moved out of the country, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to increase interest rates in response.

Following this, Turkish people began looking toward crypto, although the volumes at the time weren’t significantly larger than those for nations with similar GDP levels. For instance, in the week ending on Nov. 4, 2017, 41 Bitcoin was traded for Turkish lira via the LocalBitcoins exchange, while in Mexico — which has a similar GDP, but an inflation rate of around 4.5 percent — 38 Bitcoin was traded for Mexican pesos. In other words, relatively high inflation can give a slight boost to crypto adoption, but without hyperinflation, it doesn’t result in a dramatic increase (e.g., 303 Bitcoin was traded for Venezuelan bolívars on the week that ended on Nov. 4).

However, this year there has at least been the threat of hyperinflation, as Turkey entered a nascent crisis, which saw inflation rise to 15.39 percent, at the beginning of July. As a result, there was a 131.9 percent increase in volume on the LocalBitcoins exchange between the beginning of July and the beginning of August, with the BTC trade volume in Turkish lira rising from 327,295 to 759,026 between the week ending on July 7 and that ending Aug. 11.

Volume of TRY & BTC Market

Between these two dates, the price of BTC actually sank from $6,670 to $6,145 (-7.87 percent), meaning that this rise can’t be accounted for by a strong bull market in Turkey. Similarly, figures from CryptoCompare, culled from the BTCTurk and LocalBitcoins exchanges, reveal that there were trades in Bitcoin worth TRY 31,592,628 on Aug. 10, representing a 424.3 percent increase when compared to the 24-hour volume for July 10, which was TRY 6,026,033.

Speaking of the Turkish inflationary crisis and its positive effects on demand for crypto, ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees noted on Twitter that Bitcoin’s recent resilience in the face of crypto-market turbulence had raised its stock as a store of value and made it a viable alternative to the Turkish lira.

It would seem that an increasing number of Turkish people agree with him, given that a June survey from ING Bank revealed that Turkey has the highest rate of cryptocurrency ownership in the world — or rather, out of 15 countries, including the U.S., Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, and the Netherlands. 18 percent of Turkish people own some cryptocurrency, compared to 12 percent for the next highest — Romania, which also happens to have the highest rate of inflation among the 14 other nations — and eight percent for the United States.

Cryptocurrency Ownership

However, an inflation rate of around 15 percent isn’t enough on its own to drive widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies, nor is it sufficient to trigger the process of hyperbitcoinization. For one, even if the TRY/BTC market has enjoyed increases in volume in recent weeks and months, absolute numbers are still comparatively low, with the market currently being the 16th largest for Bitcoin at the time of writing, according to CryptoCompare. This equals a 24-hour volume of BTC 226.09, which is only 0.08 percent of the total amount traded in a day, and only 0.48 percent and 0.68 percent of the volume traded against the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen respectively.

Also, if you look at the TRY/BTC charts for LocalBitcoins, the recent inflation-driven increase over July-August isn’t that large and is actually dwarfed by the trading volumes in Turkish lira as witnessed in April and early June and particularly during the end-of-2017 rush. And in fact, if you compared the TRY/BTC figures for the week ending on Aug. 11 against those for the week ending on Aug. 18 — during which the crisis reached its peak, with lira falling by as much as 10 percent — there is a drop rather than an increase. TRY 759,026 was traded for the week ending on Aug. 11, while only TRY 573,626 was traded for the seven days leading up to Aug. 18.

In contrast to the growth of crypto visible in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, what this lack of a pronounced upswing points to is access to the U.S. dollar, among other fiat currencies and stores of value. In contrast to Venezuela and Zimbabwe, the Turkish government has opted not to set any capital controls, thereby enabling people to buy and sell as much foreign currency as they like. As a result, Turkish investors and the Turkish people have begun buying U.S. dollars and gold, as indicated by how both have risen markedly against the lira. And in turn, neither Bitcoin nor any other cryptocurrency has seen a big jump in trading volumes recently, even though the longer-term weakness of the lira has played a role in giving Turkey one of the highest rates of crypto ownership in the developed world.

Argentina and reserve currencies

Much the same story can be gleaned from Argentina. At 31.2 percent, Argentina currently has the highest inflation rate of any moderately sized economy — which the IMF ranks as 21st in terms of GDP — and as could be inferred from such a statistic, cryptocurrencies should be enjoying a strong following in the South American nation.

However, despite the early expectation that Argentina was ripe for Bitcoin adoption, it would seem that the population doesn’t currently trade cryptocurrency in impressive numbers. On the LocalBitcoins exchange, the highest number of Bitcoin bought in 2018 using Argentine pesos in a single week was 31, during the week ending on July 7. And for the sake of comparison, Sweden has the 23rd largest GDP according to the IMF, yet during the week ending on July 7 many more Bitcoin — 112, to be precise — were traded for Swedish krona.

Volume of ARS & BTC Market

According to CryptoCompare, Argentina is only the 45th biggest market in the world for Bitcoin (Sweden is the 31st), despite having the sixth highest rate of inflation in the world. And as with Turkey, a big part of the explanation for this is that Argentina hasn’t had strict capital controls since 2015, when incoming president Mauricio Macri lifted the controls imposed by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in 2011.

Because of this, Argentines have access to U.S. dollars and other currencies, something which circumvents the need for cryptocurrencies as a store of value.

Still, even without any recent jump in crypto trading or ownership, Bitcoin still has a noticeable presence in Argentina. Not only has an Argentine bank recently begun using Bitcoin for cross-border payments instead of the SWIFT network, but the country was also one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin during the period between 2011 and 2015 — even though capital controls were in place. As reported by Tom Jeffreys in early 2016, Bitcoin was already accepted by 145 merchants in Buenos Aires alone (it’s now accepted by 194), implying that the cryptocurrency wasn’t simply a store of value but also a method of payment:

“For many, the practical, everyday uses of Bitcoin in a country like Argentina are the early lab tests of radical financial overhaul that could have wider implications for the global economy.”

Grim scenarios

The lesson provided by all of the above examples is the following: Cryptocurrencies have a huge potential as alternative methods of payment and stores of value during financial crises. However, as long as world reserve currencies — such as the U.S. dollar and euro — remain stable, and for as long as people of an unstable nation have access to such reserves, no cryptocurrency is likely to gain widespread adoption and use in that country — at least not as a result of inflation. More simply, there will be no hyperbitcoinization as long as the U.S. dollar remains strong.

As illustrated by Coin Dance’s numbers for markets on LocalBitcoins, trading volumes are highest — and rise the fastest — in nations where there’s very poor access to a reliable fiat currency. Consequently, what’s needed to drive the mass adoption of crypto in any one nation isn’t simply inflation, but also a shortage of US dollars and other stale foreign currencies.

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G20 Forum Shelves Deadline for ‘Very Specific Recommendations’ on Crypto

Cryptocurrencies will continue to receive a broadly hands-off approach from the G20 until at least October, a meeting of the forum confirmed July 21-22.

A summary of interim decisions made by the dedicated Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors (FATF) group sees any hard-and-fast regulatory steps regarding cryptoassets remain absent.

The results follow a four-month consultation period which FATF enacted during a previous gathering in March. At the time, representatives said they were obliged to create what they called “very specific recommendations” for how to approach the cryptocurrency sphere at international level.

In the intervening months, however, it appears that position has considerably softened.

“[W]e ask the FATF to clarify in October 2018 how its standards apply to crypto-assets,” the summary requests.

In brief comments about the general mood towards cryptocurrency, the G20 adopts a similarly balanced view, stating the technology contains both “benefits” and “risks.”

“Technological innovations, including those underlying crypto-assets, can deliver significant benefits to the financial system and the broader economy,” the document continues:

“Crypto-assets do, however, raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, market integrity, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Such vocabulary echoes the angle that emerged from G20 activities throughout the year, and also represents more recent comments from constituent participants such as the European Union. Earlier this month, a French government report under finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who had publicly called for the G20 to debate cryptocurrency, likewise recommended avoiding direct regulation.

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What World Leaders Think About Crypto, and How They Want Decentralization to Bolster Centralised Power

Given the apparent sensitivity of cryptocurrency markets to regulatory and political developments, it stands to reason that the world’s leaders —  and what they think about crypto — will be vitally important in determining the direction the cryptocurrency market will travel in the future. Many leaders have been willing to sit back over the past few months and let crypto develop — more or less — organically, yet it’s becoming apparent that the time for official action is drawing increasingly near, at which point Bitcoin, et al. will either bear the brunt of government ‘crackdowns’ or will benefit from favorable support.

However, teasing out a single, consistent stance on crypto among world leaders is difficult, with many saying conflicting things about Bitcoin, Ethereum and other platforms, and many not openly saying anything at all. But one thing that does emerge, amid all the noise, is that many are enthusiastic about blockchain technology in the abstract, without being enthusiastic about any cryptocurrency that actually exists right now.

This could potentially have unfortunate implications for crypto, if such a position ever translates into concerted action against decentralized platforms to the benefit of more centralised, government-endorsed alternatives. But then again, if the decentralization of community-led cryptocurrencies is as powerful as its exponents claim it is, what world leaders think about crypto might actually be inconsequential in the long term after all.

Donald Trump: ‘keeping an eye’ on Bitcoin

If there’s one leader the world that enjoys being talking about more than any other right now, it’s Donald Trump. However, it would seem that Donald Trump isn’t all that keen on talking about crypto, though it’s possible to deduce his general stance on Bitcoin by looking at what the people around him have said about cryptocurrencies recently. And while their words have been cautious or qualified — for the most part — it would seem that Trump might possibly be the most crypto-sympathetic leader in the Western world right now.

One of the most recent pronouncements from a person close to the 45th President came from Gary Cohn, the 11th Director of the National Economic Council — from January 2017 to April 2018) — and the ex-president of Goldman Sachs. He affirmed his belief that there will one day be a “global cryptocurrency.” Unfortunately for Bitcoin maximalists, Cohn doesn’t think that such a global token will be Bitcoin, since he believes that whatever coin emerges to dominate the future will not be “based on mining costs or cost of electricity or things like that.”

Cohn is, in other words, a member of the ‘blockchain not Bitcoin‘ club, and even though he no longer works as Trump’s chief economic adviser, it would seem that other figures within Trump’s circle — as well as Trump himself — are also fellow travellers. In September, Margie Graves, the chief information officer at the US Office of Management and Budget, revealed that the government was looking into use cases for distributed ledger technology, just as other White House officials were urging the adoption of the data standards necessary for blockchain adoption to take hold.

If such enthusiasm for blockchain invited hope for a similar attitude towards cryptocurrencies, such hope was largely stunted during a November 30 press conference. When quizzed on whether “the President [has] been following this at all – Bitcoin specifically,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders answered:

“I know it’s something that [Trump’s] keeping an eye on.”

Revealingly, such vigilance was being maintained mostly by Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert, implying that Bitcoin was more a subject of concern for the Trump government than of excitement.

While remarks from Attorney General Jeff Sessions in October would also suggest that the White House regards the cryptocurrencies which exist now as more of a problem than as a solution, recent statements from another one of Trump’s former brains — Steve Bannon — could suggest that the President’s personal view of Bitcoin is more sympathetic. In March, Bannon championed cryptocurrencies as a means of enabling businesses and governments “to get away from the central banks that debase your currency and make slave wages,” and of enabling individuals to reclaim power over their personal data from tech companies — which haven’t exactly been supporters of Trump.

He followed up these comments in June by describing cryptocurrencies as “revolutionary.” While it’s too much of a jump to suggest that Trump completely agrees with the chief strategist — who he fired in August — on this, it’s not too much of a jump to suppose that a president who’s introduced tax cuts and is in favour of smaller government might also be fond of a technology that “takes control back from central authorities.” Still, even if Trump is privately enthused by Bitcoin, it’s difficult to see it translating into new government policy in the short term, at least if the growing tendency of the SEC and CFTC to ease off cryptocurrencies is any kind of indication.

The EU: Blockchain over Bitcoin, despite fanboys

Moving from the U.S. to the EU, it’s perhaps unsurprising to note that a similar favoring of blockchain over Bitcoin is also prevalent. The British, French, German, Dutch and Italian governments have all outlined intentions to introduce cryptocurrency regulation, and a common theme in their suspicion of crypto trading concerns its security and money-laundering implications.

In December, the U.K. government revealed that it wanted to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for cryptocurrency exchanges to permit users to trade anonymously and without confirming their identities. The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay said:

“We are working to address concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies by negotiating to bring virtual currency exchange platforms and some wallet providers within anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation.”

Similarly, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced in January that France and Germany would launch a joint push at the G20 summit in March to introduce cryptocurrency regulation, with such coordinated action on their respective parts indicating approval for crypto-control at the very highest level (i.e. at the level of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron). That said, as cautious of cryptocurrencies as EU and G20 leaders were — and still are — no specific action was agreed upon at the March summit in Argentina. Despite the 20 finance ministers in attendance sharing fears that crypto could be used for laundering, avoiding taxes or even financing terrorism, too few of them believed that cryptocurrencies were big enough to pose a threat to financial stability. Hence, they resolved to delay formulating any specific recommendations until the next G20 meeting in July.

It’s unlikely that these recommendations will be especially favourable, but it’s worth pointing out that the European environment wasn’t always so hostile toward Bitcoin and the like. Back in July 2015, then-Prime Minister David Cameron chose the London-based digital asset company Blockchain to join the U.K. trade delegation to Southeast Asia, indicating the British government’s positive stance towards cryptocurrencies —  in particular — rather than just distributed ledgers — in general. His number two in command at the time, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, had also announced in March of the same year there would be £10 million of funding for research into the opportunities provided by digital currencies.

Interestingly, ex-chancellor Osborne was such a Bitcoin fanboy that he was photographed withdrawing the currency in August 2014, and it would seem that certain people still in key positions of power are also personal advocates of cryptocurrencies. Emmanuel Macron was photographed holding a Ledger Blue wallet in March 2016, while he was the finance minister under François Hollande. He also proposed legislation that same month that would have used blockchain tech to turn bonds on the French bond market into a kind of crypto-asset.

However, these indications of support for Bitcoin all emerged before last year’s big speculative boom in cryptocurrencies, which ultimately resulted in finance ministers from Spain to the Netherlands warning of the risks of trading in crypto. Since then, the likes of current British prime minister Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron have talked about cryptocurrencies only in the context of regulating or ‘watching’ them. At the World Economic Forum in January, Macron said in a speech:

“I’m in favour of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] having the mandate to police the entire global financial system, of which whole areas escape regulation. Such as Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies or shadow-banking.”

There are, however, a few notable exceptions to the EU’s hardening stance. In February 2017, Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat declared in a speech in Brussels that Europe should become “the Bitcoin continent”:

“The rise of cryptocurrencies can be slowed but cannot be stopped. Some financial institutions are painstakingly accepting the fact that the system at the back of such transactions is much more efficient and transparent than the classical ones.”

Since then, even though the EU has, in general, grown warier of crypto, Malta has only become more welcoming, with Binance and OKEx both establishing presences in the country in June and April of this year, respectively. And Malta isn’t the only small, crypto-friendly EU nation at the moment, since Lithuania has taken concerted steps this year to create positive frameworks and guidelines for the cryptocurrency industry. So too has fellow-Baltic nation Estonia, although its plans to establish its own national cryptocurrency were frozen after criticism from the European Central Bank.

East Asia: Crackdowns amid a crypto revolution

Moving away from the Western world, an even more restrictive stance towards cryptocurrencies and crypto trading is noticeable in China. Back in September 2017, the Chinese government banned not only ICOs, but also crypto exchanges from operating in the Asian nation — a prohibition that was strengthened in February with the banning of foreign exchanges. All of this persists despite the March re-election of President Xi Jinping, who is reportedly “one of the largest advocates of free trade China has seen in quite some time.”

While Xi, seemingly, isn’t enough of a free-trade advocate to permit decentralised currencies from being circulated in China, he is yet another big fan of blockchain technology. In May, he hailed blockchain as part of a “technological revolution” reshaping the world.

“The new generation of information technology represented by artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communication, [the] internet of things, and blockchain is accelerating breakthroughs in its range of applications.”

His support — along with the Chinese government’s — for blockchain technology would explain why China led the rest of the globe in the number of registered blockchain patents last year, and it has a very good chance of reclaiming this title in 2018, given April’s announcement of some $1.6 billion in extra government funding for blockchain projects. It will, however, be followed not-too-distantly by South Korea, where the government has a similar preference for blockchain over Bitcoin. In February, its finance minister Kim Dong-yeon spoke of the revolutionary potential of distributed ledgers. During a meeting at the People’s Bank of China, he said:

“Blockchain technology is an important technological breakthrough to fuel the fourth industrial revolution and, as such, the ministry will take a cautious approach in regulating the cryptocurrency market. For negative use cases of cryptocurrencies, the ministry will impose strict regulations.”

South Korea has indeed taken a hardline when it comes to “negative use cases of cryptocurrencies,” despite the widespread fervor for crypto trading among the general South Korean population. In November, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon went so far as saying:

“There are cases in which young Koreans including students are jumping in to make quick money and virtual currencies are used in illegal activities like drug dealing or multi-level marketing for frauds […] This can lead to serious distortion or social pathological phenomena, if left unaddressed.”

Such strong rhetoric went hand-in-hand with the regulatory steps the South Korean government took — and threatened to take — in the preceding and succeeding months, which included a September ICO ban and a January ban on anonymous crypto trading. However, it has stopped short of banning trading altogether, with President Moon Jae-in also announcing in January that, at least in the short term, there wouldn’t be a complete ban.

This confirmation of a ‘no ban’ is indicative of the kind of u-turns governments have made — and continue to make — regarding cryptocurrencies. This is most evident with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe who, in March 2014 — one month after Mt. Gox’s infamous collapse — released a document announcing the government’s position that Bitcoin was not a currency. He said, as part of a decision that prohibited Japanese banks from offering Bitcoin accounts and also banned the brokerage of Bitcoin:

“Bitcoin are neither Japanese nor foreign currencies and its trading is different from deals stated by Japan’s bank act as well as financial instruments and exchange act.”

However, as the nascent crypto industry recovered from Mt. Gox, and as Japan became the second-largest crypto market in the world, Abe’s — and the Japanese government’s — position gradually softened. In May 2016, it finally recognised cryptocurrencies as money, a move which enabled local banks to handle them and allowed crypto exchanges to operate within a regulated framework. Since then, the nation’s trailblazing approach to officially recognize cryptocurrencies has converged to a degree with the regulatory focus of most Western nations, although in Japan’s case the regulation leans more towards the supportive, nurturing end of the spectrum.

Putin: Will he or won’t he?

Circling back towards Europe, president of Russia Vladimir Putin has a stance on crypto that’s more or less as ambiguous as Donald Trump’s. Yet, in Putin’s case, this ambiguity comes not from an unwillingness to talk about cryptocurrencies and blockchain, but from its opposite. Back in July 2017, at a G20 summit, he made what could be considered his first comment on crypto technology:

“The global economy’s transition to a new industrial order is underpinned by the development of digital technology. We believe that the G20 could take on a leading role in shaping international regulations in this area.”

While such a statement could indicate a desire to regulate cryptocurrencies in a way that enhances their potential for creating “a new industrial order,” other statements from Putin and the Russian government have only muddied the waters. In August 2017, deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov elaborated on plans to introduce a state-controlled cryptocurrency, the ‘CryptoRuble,’ which would be the only digital currency legally tradable in the country. “I am a supporter of a CryptoRuble coming into being,” he told a Russian news network. “We can’t keep cryptocurrencies under lock and key any longer – the phenomenon will keep advancing […] It should, however, advance in a way that does not harm our national economy, but rather strengthens it.”

Next, there were reports that Russia would introduce a regulatory framework that would legalise Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In September, Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov told the Moscow Financial Forum, “the state understands indeed that cryptocurrencies are real. There is no sense in banning them, there is a need to regulate them.” As encouraging as this may have been, Putin himself contradicted this statement in October by calling for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be outlawed. Their prohibition was necessary, according to the president, because they present dangerous “opportunities to launder funds acquired through criminal activities, tax evasion, even terrorism financing, as well as the spread of fraud schemes.”

His words were reinforced later that month when he officially confirmed plans for the much ballyhooed CryptoRuble, but were then weakened — yet again — when a December meeting saw the government disagree on whether these plans should ever be realized, with Alexey Moiseev (Deputy Minister of Finance) and Olga Skorobogatova (Deputy Governor of Russia’s Central Bank) both claiming that a state-controlled cryptocurrency was unnecessary. Then. apparently, it was on again, only to be off again when Putin announced in March that cryptocurrency regulation — officially making crypto trading legal — would become law by July 1 of this year.

So Putin’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies and their (legal) status in Russia is now finally clear, right? Wrong: in June, he answered a number of questions on crypto, and even though he appeared to rule out the possibility of there ever being a state-backed CryptoRuble, he didn’t offer much else that would suggest the government is about to start creating a nurturing environment for cryptocurrencies. He said during a live Q&A session:

“The relationship of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation to cryptocurrency [is that] it considers cryptocurrency neither a means of payment nor a store of value. Cryptocurrency is not backed by anything. One should treat it cautiously, carefully.”

Even though Putin has spoken approvingly of blockchain technology, it therefore remains to be seen just what kind of support he and his government will be offering cryptocurrencies in the future.

Latin America: Restriction and state-backed cryptocurrencies

A similarly mixed picture also emerges from Latin America, where the use of cryptocurrencies has been relatively widespread, but where governments haven’t always been willing to provide a legal framework that would encourage further adoption. This was particularly evident in Venezuela: an inflation crisis affecting its national currency  (the bolivar) saw people turn to Bitcoin en masse in 2017 as an alternative means of payment, despite the fact that the government was imprisoning miners of the cryptocurrency.

However, this quickly changed in December, when the government of Nicolas Maduro announced that it would issue its own oil-backed state cryptocurrency, the Petro. According to Maduro, the Petro would enable Venezuela to “[a]dvance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.” And it was with this decision that his government’s stance on cryptocurrencies more generally softened, with crypto mining being made legal in January. While Maduro didn’t offer comment on this u-turn himself, his ‘cryptocurrency superintendent’ Carlos Vargas had the following to say:

“It is an activity that is now perfectly legal […] We have had meetings with the Supreme Court so that people who have been victims of seizures and arrests in previous years will have charges dismissed.”

Unfortunately, this change of heart hasn’t really translated into purposeful action to promote the use of all cryptocurrencies, since aside from the launch of a free course focused on the trading and mining of said currencies, Maduro’s government has been focused almost exclusively on promoting the Petro. In January, he urged the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) to join the country in using the national cryptocurrency:

“I put it on the table, brother governments of the ALBA, the proposal of the cryptocurrency of the Petro, so that we can take it on as one of the projects of integration of the 21st century in a bold way.”

As for other countries in Central and South America, it’s interesting to note that the more neoliberal among them take a stance towards crypto that’s comparable to those taken in the U.S. and the EU. In Brazil, numerous blockchain pilots have been launched by banks, businesses and the government since at least 2016. Yet the nation’s influential figures have, in general, spoken dismissively of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In October, the president of Brazil’s central bank, Ilan Goldfajn, likened Bitcoin to a pyramid scheme:

“The Bitcoin is a financial asset with no ballast that people buy because they believe it will appreciate. That is a typical bubble or pyramid [scheme].”

While Rodrigo Maia, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, has spoken about the potential for cryptocurrencies to reduce tax evasion, neither he nor President Michel Temer have built upon such support by proposing favorable policies. And in the vacuum created by their silence, other Brazilian politicians — such as Expedito Netto — have sought to ban Bitcoin outright.

In Mexico, regulation has been passed that will effectively restrict the trade of cryptocurrencies and introduce government oversight over their use. In Argentina, however, the approach to digital currencies is — and has been — more generous, possibly because President Mauricio Macri appears to be privately interested in Bitcoin, at least judging by his organizational role in the First Bitcoin Forum in 2015 — and by at least one past Facebook post referring to ‘interesting’ discussions on bitcoin with entrepreneur Richard Branson. And while he’s spoken little about cryptocurrencies since then, the willingness of Argentinian banks, for example, to use Bitcoin for cross-border payments would indicate that the environment he’s fostering is a friendly one.

Interest insofar as crypto can reinforce power

Crypto is at a crossroads. After enjoying an almost fantastical Christmas period that saw Bitcoin shoot up by as much as 154% in a single month (in the four weeks leading to Dec. 17), cryptocurrencies have been struggling to find a secure plateau ever since. Regulatory setbacks, damaging hacks, and fraud investigations have been knocking one currency or another since the beginning of the year, with the total market cap of all coins standing at roughly 35% of what it was at its Jan. 7 peak — which equalled almost $830 billion).

This turbulence is why the world’s leaders are so important for crypto right now, since their views and the regulatory policies they impose will have a strong influence on how digital currencies perform in the coming months and years. And amid the marked variation in opinions on crypto among world leaders, one basic principle emerges: national governments want to ensure that decentralized cryptocurrencies don’t undermine their sovereignty over the nations they govern, while — at the same time — they want to harness whatever’s convenient about crypto in order to increase economic efficiency and strengthen their respective positions.

This is visible in the eagerness of such EU leaders as Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May to curb the anonymous trading of cryptocurrencies, so as to maintain their jurisdiction over the flow of money. It’s visible in the desire of leaders such as Nicolas Maduro — and possibly Vladimir Putin — to launch state-controlled cryptocurrencies, so as to evade international sanctions and to shore up struggling economies. And it’s visible in the excitement that most leaders have for blockchain technology, which would take what’s most congenial about cryptocurrencies — their ‘trustless immutability’ — and apply them in an efficiency-enhancing way to various fields economic and institutional areas.

However, while most world leaders seem interested only in exploiting the features of blockchain tech that would reinforce their power, there’s little doubt that many of them are privately fascinated by crypto, which may end up benefiting from favourable legislation as a result. From Emmanuel Macron holding his own Ledger Blue wallet to Mauricio Macri organization of Bitcoin conferences in Buenos Aires, there’s little doubt that cryptocurrencies and their promise of decentralized financial systems have certainly captured the imagination of many a president or prime minister. It would just seem that — for the moment, at least — the world’s leaders are busier trying to adapt crypto to their own needs, rather than the other way around.