For Sergio Rivera, there is still a long way to go for the adoption of Bitcoin in Peru.
The closure of stores due to the pandemic generated a drop in their trade volumes.
Among the countries of the Latin American region, Peru is not exactly the best known for its relationship with bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies, although this situation seems to be changing, with the emergence of various platforms, exchanges and options for the purchase, sale and use of Bitcoin.
One of those platforms is 9780Bitcoin.com, a Peruvian exchange that allows the purchase of BTC not only online, but from physical stores. From CriptoNoticias we spoke with its CEO, Sergio Rivera, who evaluated the current outlook for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Peru.
Rivera addressed regulatory aspects, the position of banks and the adoption of Bitcoin by users as a store of value. The executive also talked about the operation of his exchange, both in the digital and physical environment. And on the latter, he reviewed how the pandemic and confinement measures have affected his activity.
Buying bitcoins in physical stores
Founded in 2017 in Arequipa, el exchange 9780Bitcoin It offers the sale of Bitcoin to its clients in Peru in two ways: from its website and in physical stores. Perhaps the latter is one of its main attractions, already having three stores, distributed in Arequipa, Lima and Cusco.
Precisely, what is an attraction under normal circumstances, has been particularly affected in the scenario of confinement and distancing imposed by the pandemic. Its three stores had to close.
While at the beginning of the confinement, various exchanges in the region reported an explosion in their trading volumes, providing service in physical stores generated a contrary behavior in the case of this Peruvian exchange.
“At the peak of the pandemic, we closed the three stores that we had,” recalls Rivera, who states that their volumes fell a bit as a result of this situation.
“Due to the operation of the physical stores that had to close due to the pandemic, we have seen slightly contracted operating volumes. Fortunately, in this current phase of normalization and economic reactivation, we are once again resuming our transaction volumes and sales growth trend.
Sergio Rivera, CEO of 9780Bitcoin
Already with new policies of deconfinement and reactivation of the economy underway, two of the three locations have resumed their operations. The Arequipa store is yet to be reactivated, although they expect this to happen in the coming days.
How 9780Bitcoin works
Upon entering the 9780Bitcoin website, we see a remarkable difference between their prices and those of the cryptocurrency market that we find, for example, in CoinMarketCap. In the case of purchase, the difference is close to 4%; while the sale price is more than 6% lower.
Rivera explains that this difference, to which a fixed commission of $ 3 per transaction must be added, is due to an automated system that sets the prices for its operations.
This automation not only takes into account market values, but also the state of the accounts of the exchange and “the incentive we can give, at certain times, by improving the purchase or sale price, in order to balance our accounts,” says Rivera.
Despite this, the executive ensures that the company has a “sufficiently large financial cushion.” This allows them, he adds, not to need to go out to foreign markets to cover their operations. “It is important in this sense to have a considerable amount of transactions so that they balance our accounts”, he adds.
When we review the work of this Peruvian company in 2019, offered support for bitcoin and 4 other cryptocurrencies. Now, their website shows the option to buy dozens of currencies, including altcoins like the cryptocurrency of Ethereum (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), litecoin (LTC); o stablecoins como USD Coin (USDC).
Despite a much broader offering in terms of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin continues to dominate exchange volumes. Rivera explains that “without a doubt the vast majority of transactions are with bitcoin”, maintaining around 90% of their transactions, as happened in 2019 when they offered only 5 cryptocurrencies.
The company’s representative highlights among altcoins a recent increase in transactions with tether (USDT), a currency anchored to the value of the US dollar, issued by the Bitfinex exchange. Bitcoin volumes are followed by ETH and USDT itself, he says.
Understanding and using Bitcoin in Peru
The executive assures that “every day more people know bitcoin” in Peru. In contrast, remember that when the exchange, “Those who knew and bought bitcoin were mainly people of a technical or financial profile”.
But everything is changing: “now we see with great pleasure that more and more ordinary people are discovering the benefits that bitcoin can offer them, be it for saving or sending remittances abroad.”
Still the journey is long, believe, because not as widely used as in other countries in the region (in reference to cases such as Venezuela or Argentina). However, they have noticed an increase in “the number of people who use it as an investment, due to the potential it has to increase considerably in price.”
Too have increased users who pay or send money to their relatives outside the country using Bitcoin, although it is not something massive yet. In his view, it is still far from it.
One of the main obstacles that Rivera sees for a massification of cryptocurrencies is the proliferation of pyramid schemes and other fraudulent ways that hide behind the fame of Bitcoin to deceive people in Peru.
Rivera believes that education is essential for people to properly engage in the world of Bitcoin. For him, that is precisely part of his work as a company dedicated to the industry: “to serve as an educational and reliable agent for the entry of ordinary people to the world of cryptocurrencies.”
“We see our work not only as that of a Bitcoin exchange, but also as that of a reliable source of information. […] We seek through the advice we provide to prevent our clients from falling into these types of scams.”
Sergio Rivera, executive of the Peruvian ecxchange
As part of its business model, this exchange avoids the custody of its users’ funds. Rather, their service serves as a bridge between their clients’ cryptocurrencies and fiat money. “Having an account with us is only to carry out your transactions on time,” the executive tells us.
Instead of custody, 9780Bitcoin focuses on helping clients unfamiliar with Bitcoin understand “how important it is to save as backup of security written down on paper the seed of 12 words and the private key of their bitcoins ”.
Bitcoin is in regulatory limbo in Peru
In the regulatory arena, Rivera highlights a limbo situation for Bitcoin in Peru. This is largely due to the fact that “there is no specific law or regulation in Peru for the treatment of cryptocurrencies.”
In this regard, consider that both they and the rest of companies dedicated to cryptocurrencies in Peru they want “a lucid regulation, that seeks the benefit of the majority, especially that of the people ”.
“We hope that in this sense common sense prevails and that Peruvian politicians do not succumb to the pressures that may exist from some economic groups. In addition, we consider that it is always necessary to have clear rules to be able to do business “
Sergio Rivera, Director of 9780Bitcoin
He hopes that after the general elections scheduled for next year there will be an “adequate political scenario” to address the issue in the national discussion and that this legal framework for the industry in the South American country will be defined.
Meanwhile the stage is hazy and it lends itself to all kinds of interpretations and attitudes regarding the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For example, he says that recently the Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP) refused to open accounts with the exchange.
Regarding this case, the impediment seems curious, based on the “excuse that cryptocurrencies could be used to finance illegal activities”; while there have been scandals of recent date that show how the banks themselves serve as a bridge to move money illegally.
In the particular case of Peru, in 2019 it came to light the case of a financing for more than 3.5 million dollars to the electoral campaign of Keiko Fujimori in 2011 from a high executive, precisely, of the BCP.
Daily life with Bitcoin in Peru and future plans
Although there is more attention, Peru’s daily life still does not have many options to pay with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Sergio Rivera comments, however, that the number of businesses is growing little by little.
And among those who have already included it as a form of payment, the tourism sector stands out particularly. Tourist agencies, hotels and restaurants are the cases in which the executive notices the greatest growth when accepting payments in BTC.
Rivera’s expectation is that, as Bitcoin becomes more global in use, this will be reflected in the particular Peruvian case. However, it seems noticeable to him, “a growing interest in the subject in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of startups”.
From the point of view of 9780Bitcoin, the idea is to consolidate itself in this nascent local market and refine its business model within the country before an eventual expansion to other markets.
However, the CEO of the company leaves the door open for future expansions. When that happens, would look for sites with regulations that encourage long-term business growth.
“We are aware of how fast things change in this industry and the need to grow in order not to die; That is why, although we have not yet defined a date to start operations in other markets, and even more so with the delay that the pandemic represented; we are already evaluating which markets could be in which we will initially expand ”