When it comes to crypto, Venezuela represents two sides of the same coin. On one hand, Venezuela is a crypto-dystopia where a dictatorship uses the technology to finance itself (we have covered the petro and its insidious purpose a few times now). But on the other hand, Venezuela is one of the most compelling cases for widespread crypto-adoption. The country’s rampant inflation and the government’s irresponsible economic policies created a need for alternative currency. Years of relatively free electricity gave rise to a robust crypto-community and, today, Venezuela is among the countries with the highest trading volumes on LocalBitcoins.com.
It’s a country where people use blockchain to fight for financial freedom. But how?
The Venezuelan cause has captured the attention of the crypto community around the world, spurring debate about the role that cryptocurrencies can play in humanitarian aid, economic development, and financial inclusion. We have compiled an overview of some notable humanitarian projects, although this list is not exhaustive.
Not your grandma’s charity
While there’s much work to be done, there’s momentum, energy and determination to pave the road ahead.
Using cryptocurrencies for international donations and humanitarian aid means that funds can be sent faster, with much lower transaction fees, and more transparency as to how the funds are spent.
In 2012, for example, Randy Brito founded Bitcoin Venezuela, an online community for Venezuelans to learn and share about crypto and economic independence. Their mission has always been to educate and empower Venezuelans. As the crisis worsened, Bitcoin Venezuela started taking crypto donations from around the world to provide humanitarian relief. From soup kitchens to building wells, these programs have become a bigger part of the organization’s operations.
In early 2018, two Venezuelan brothers started EatBCH, an initiative that takes donations of Bitcoin Cash to run soup kitchens in 18 different locations across Venezuela. EatBCH shares photos of each food delivery on Twitter, as a form of transparency and accountability. Their model has been so popular, it has expanded operations into Sudan.
Let beat (air)drop
Another strategy for getting funds to Venezuelan hands is through “airdrops”: massively distributing cryptocurrency.
AirTM, is organizing an “airdrop” to send $10 worth of crypto to 100,000 Venezuelans. AirTM is a fintech company that streamlines deposits and withdrawals across 200 different payment methods, and while they didn’t start as a crypto company, they accept nine different cryptos. The AirdropVenezuela project will take place from January to March, next year.
Pale Blue is an early stage project that got attention earlier this year for launching a country-wide Bitcoin airdrop in Venezuela. The team is currently developing an application that allows users to manage cryptocurrency with enhanced security features.
The challenge with airdrops is that there’s a limited audience of Venezuelans who know how to use them, so education and training are critical for these projects to achieve large scale success —and one group in particular is launching small scale tests in Cúcuta, to understand user needs and challenges.
Cúcuta wasn’t built in a day
Cúcuta, Colombia, has been in the news as the place where 5,000 Venezuelans cross the border daily in search of a future, and that’s where Cripto Conserje operates, launching small scale trials with crypto. How small? The first test was delivering five dollars to one person.
The project brings new meaning to slow and steady, incrementally increasing their trials to five, then thirty, and now fifty participants, while testing the software to make sure everything works, and training users so they understand cryptocurrencies.
Tipping the scales
Caracas Chronicles, a site you might have heard about, has partnered with Open Money Initiative to empower through education. Communities like ZCash, Horizen, and Dash give grants for special projects, including food drives, software development and conferences.
While Venezuela is two sides of the same coin, the crypto community has the power and responsibility to work together so scales tip in the right direction. Venezuelans need educational resources, reliable products and the continued support of the international community to build the nation we know it can become.GiveCrypto, a philanthropic organization, has also established a strategic focus on Venezuela.
So let’s make it happen.