Bitcoin has been envisioned by some as a means for Argentinians to extricate themselves from a broken financial system and a crumbling currency.
A New York Times article described how a merchant is charged upwards of 10 percent for credit card payments. The local peso currency has floundered by roughly 70% against the dollar during the past ten years. It has apparently still not shaken the era of hyperinflation in the 80’s that saw merchants re-price items daily to keep up.
Last year, it appeared that authorities were indeed looking to clamp down on Bitcoin as well. But Bitcoin is holding on thus far, and recent reports suggest that the local population has been increasingly availing themselves of its benefits.
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A good recent example is Bitcoffee, claimed to be the first cafe in the country accepting bitcoin. Located in downtown Buenos Aires, it seeks to cater toward the startup, tech-savvy crowd. Matias Caputi, a founding partner of Bitcoffee, described, “The idea is to have a friendly place where people can relax and be in touch with technology without it being invasive.”
Ironically, the prefix “bit” was used in the name to connote the basic unit in technology and communications, even prior to the shop accepting bitcoin. Caputi was eventually approached by customers and indeed agreed to accepting the cryptocurrency.
The joint seeks to create a conducive environment for those looking to work and collaborate. They get a digital menu, enter their order and name, and indicate if they’ll pay by cash or bitcoin.