Can Bitcoin Provide Refuge from Declining Rand in South Africa?

As the South African Rand (ZAR) continues to plummet with no end in sight, holders of the currency are growing

As the South African Rand (ZAR) continues to plummet with no end in sight, holders of the currency are growing weary of watching their savings waste away from the sidelines and are looking for proactive ways to weather the storm.

Versus USD, ZAR has lost over 47% of its value over the past 3 years, making it one of the world’s worst performing currencies during that stretch, even as the U.S. Fed launched multiple phases of quantitative easing programs and is only very slowly and reluctantly working to taper it down.

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ZAR-USD 5-year chart
ZAR-USD 5-year chart. Source: XE.com

The Rand’s pitiful performance is attributed to declines in its trade deficit, poor economic data globally and suffering commodity prices that have hit hard on the mining-intensive economy.

In response, entrepreneur Gareth Grobler has launched ice3x.com that allows for ZAR trading with BTC and LTC. He concedes that cryptocurrency is still quite volatile, but believes there is ample opportunity for growth as it is still young. When compared with the constant decline of ZAR, the volatility doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to find another online platform allowing for straight ZAR-BTC conversion. Despite being the only player, ice3x.com’s spreads are gigantic: currently 8500 Bid and and 9400 Ask, a 5% premium over their midpoint. By comparison, the spread for BTC/EUR on btc-e is around 0.3% off the midpoint.

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