Argentina’s central bank has recently implemented stricter measures regarding cryptocurrencies. In a statement released yesterday, the bank declared that payment platforms are now prohibited from offering digital assets such as Bitcoin to their customers. The Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) cited the need to “mitigate risks” as the rationale behind this decision.
Prominent companies, including fintech giant Ualá and online marketplace Mercado Libre, previously provided their clients with crypto trading services. However, according to the BCRA’s Thursday statement, payment service providers offering payment accounts are no longer permitted to conduct or facilitate transactions involving unregulated digital assets, including cryptoassets, unless authorized by the BCRA and regulated by the competent national authority.
The central bank did not elaborate on the specific reasons for this move, apart from emphasizing customer protection. Consequently, major platforms like Mercado Libre, often dubbed the Amazon of Latin America, will no longer be able to offer Bitcoin purchasing services to Argentinians.
Argentina, the third-largest economy in Latin America, currently grapples with one of the world’s highest inflation rates. In the previous month, inflation surpassed 100% for the first time in thirty years. In response to the economic turmoil, various crypto startups in the country, and even a popular presidential candidate, have advocated for Bitcoin as a potential solution for ordinary Argentinians who struggle to save or face poverty due to the depreciation of the national currency.
While cryptocurrencies remain unregulated in Argentina, their popularity has been steadily rising. According to Chainalysis, a blockchain data firm, Argentina is one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrency markets. In its 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index, Argentina was ranked 13th.
In a significant event held last year in Buenos Aires, the capital city, called LaBitConf, numerous influential figures in the cryptocurrency industry, including MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, discussed Argentina’s expanding role within the crypto ecosystem.