The town of Santa Lucia, a popular tourist destination in Honduras, launched a blockchain hub dubbed “Bitcoin Valley” on Thursday with the aim to bolster crypto adoption in the country. So far, about 60 local businesses have joined the initiative after going through specialized training on how to integrate cryptocurrency payments into their stores.
“Bitcoin Valley” will become the fourth such crypto hub in Latin America, preceded by “Bitcoin Beach” in El Salvador, “Bitcoin Lake” in Guatemala, and “Bitcoin Jungle” in Costa Rica.
“Accepting bitcoin will allow us to open another market, win more customers,” said Cesar Andino, owner of a Los Robles shopping square in Santa Lucia, in an interview with the local news outlet Diario La Prensa. “We have to globalize. We can’t close ourselves off from technology and we can’t be left behind when other countries are already doing it.”
Indeed, many Latin American nations become increasingly drawn toward adopting cryptocurrencies for everyday payments, mostly due to their economies experiencing high inflation or fiat devaluation from time to time. And given the fact that some LA countries find themselves under heavy sanctions (Cuba, Venezuela) or straight up forbid their citizens from buying dollars (Argentina), it becomes obvious that many Latin Americans turned to crypto as the only viable investment option to allocate their life savings.
According to the blockchain data platform Chainalysis, cryptocurrency adoption increased by a whopping 880% between June 2020 and July 2021, and LA as a region ranks 5th in the world for crypto ownership. “Latin America has consistently captured between 8% and 10% of global cryptocurrency activity,” said Kim Grauer, head of research at Chainalysis.
El Salvador, a small Latin American nation, is long known for driving crypto adoption in the region, as it became the first country in the world to legalize Bitcoin as a legal tender in September 2021. The country also unveiled its own crypto hub named “Bitcoin Beach” in the seashore town of El Zonte. However, this decision was met with strong criticism from international financial institutions and ratings agencies. Some experts even predicted that the country would default on its debt after the value of its Bitcoin holding plummeted from $105 million to about $57 million.
However, the excess volatility of Bitcoin won’t be a problem for Santa Lucia’s “Bitcoin Valley.” Thanks to the partnership with the Guatemalan cryptocurrency exchange Coincaex, merchants will "receive instant payments in the local currency, eliminating cryptocurrencies fluctuation risks," Leonardo Paguada, founder of the Blockchain Honduras organization, explained to Reuters. That means that business owners won’t receive crypto for their goods.
The “Bitcoin Valley” initiative was also joined by the Technological University of Honduras, which plans to educate the local population about cryptocurrencies, offering students and entrepreneurs free courses on Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
“Santa Lucia’s community will be educated to use and manage cryptocurrencies, implementing them in different businesses in the region and generating crypto-tourism,” Ruben Carbajal Velazquez, professor at the Technological University, told Reuters.