Investing on risk: Are cryptocurrencies a safe bet in Venezuela?

Cryptocurrencies are more popular than ever, everywhere, but what does it mean to buy digital money in a country where the official currency is decomposing fast?

Photo: Seeking Alpha

You got your quincena, you planned on buying the few groceries it could, but when you got to the store, you saw an everlasting line outside. People don’t even know what they’re waiting for and you don’t have time for this shitshow today. So you go home. Defeated, pissed off. Two days later, someone at work yells, after checking DolarToday on his smartphone, “It’s over a hundred thousand bolos!” That’s Bs. 20,000 more than the last time you checked.

The fact your paycheck will buy you even less things now hits you like the hammer of god. You really should’ve stood in that damned line.

Most people around the world wouldn’t consider it possible, but it’s like El Ché once said: “Cuando lo extraordinario se hace cotidiano, estamos en presencia de Revolución”. And, boy, was he right. Back in July, one dollar, which defines the prices of pretty much everything, went for Bs. 10,000 in the Venezuelan black market. As I write this, it costs Bs. 103,000 and it might go for Bs. 78 million a year from now. You could’ve bought yourself a house with that money two years ago.

What I mean is, saving money in Venezuela makes no sense. Every minute that goes by, those bolívares in your bank account will buy you fewer things, the seed of a crippling vicious circle in which all you can do is watch your acquisitive power wither away.

The only solution, then, is to turn those bolívares into something that doesn’t devalue, and this is where cryptocurrencies come in handy: easy to buy and easier to sell, a balanced investment in crypto is probably much safer than letting your bolívares evaporate in your bank account, also being an alternative to the traditional U.S. dollars (which acquisition mainly relies in cash, making it tricky and scary sometimes).

If cryptos bust, you’ll lose money, but the bolívar already crashed, on a neverending downward spiral.

The theory behind digital currency is complex, but you don’t need to understand much about how they actually operate; you choose one of the several trading websites available (localbitcoin and cryptobuyer are getting increasingly popular), where you register your cédula and create a digital wallet. Once you finish this one-time process, buying your preferred cryptocurrency doesn’t take longer than a regular bank transfer.

Investing in crypto isn’t that new; people have been doing it for some time (even in Venezuela), but now, after Bitcoin’s crazy price increase, cryptocurrencies went mainstream, even reaching the President. The first time we talked about this phenomenon you could buy one bitcoin for little more than Bs. 300,000. Today, you’d need over Bs. 1,900,000.

But cryptocurrencies are risky. As their value increases, they attract clueless fellas who see them as a simple money-creating machine. A sudden explosion of the crypto bubble, or just losing your wallet’s password, can mean losing all your investment. If cryptos bust, you’ll lose money, but the bolívar already crashed, on a neverending downward spiral. Cryptocurrencies are a more valid alternative in Venezuela than anywhere in the world because they give you the chance to turn a currency that devalues by the minute into another that does exactly the opposite.

This is why common sense is your best friend if you plan on going crypto: invest only money you can afford to lose.

To some, crypto money is a way to redefine economy; to others, is nothing but a scam. But to many Venezuelans, the mere ability to retain purchasing value makes all the difference. A small, yet significant victory against chavismo.