Crypto May Be More Useful Than You Think

When many people think about crypto, they envision wild volatility and huge price spikes. Or maybe they worry about scams, fraud, and loose regulation.

Most Americans certainly see crypto as a speculative gambling market. However, not everybody in the rest of the world thinks that way.

Latin America has always had a different perspective on cryptocurrency than we have in the U.S. In countries such as Argentina, where the local currency continues to inflate away into nothing, people are always looking for something to do with their money. Typically this has meant that people spend their money almost immediately on goods. Why? Because at least that way they can get more value for their money before it continues to get devalued.

However, at some point in the last few years, many people in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America have realized that crypto can also be a good option. Instead of spending their money on goods, they can swap it for cryptocurrency, where at least they know it won’t inflate away. Pair that with the fact that Bitcoin (BTC) also has been an excellent long-term store of value, and now Latin Americans can remove their money from a failing banking system. It’s a win-win.

However, the key here has always been whether people had the option to spend their crypto. After all, you need a real form of payment accepted by merchants to pay for everyday items. In the U.S., we really don’t have an easy option at most merchants to pay with crypto. Don’t get me wrong, the situation is improving, but there are no widely accepted mainstream options just yet.

In Latin America, merchants have been pushing to accept crypto for years. That’s because the merchants also want to store their value in crypto just as much as the customers using it to pay. Of course, some places have been better than others at accepting crypto payments

Not far away from my current location of Costa Rica lies El Zonte, aka Bitcoin Beach, in El Salvador. El Zonte used to be in a similar situation as the one I just laid out. Many residents struggled to access basic financial services, limited by the absence of traditional banking infrastructure and high remittance fees. The reliance on cash transactions further hindered economic growth and prosperity.

That all changed one day when a guy named Jack Mallers showed up for a surf trip. Mallers is a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for financial empowerment. Recognizing the potential of Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, Mallers saw an opportunity to transform El Zonte’s economy. Inspired, he set out to introduce a groundbreaking concept: Bitcoin Beach.

Through innovative initiatives and community engagement, Mallers spearheaded the establishment of Bitcoin Beach, a vibrant ecosystem where Bitcoin served as the primary medium of exchange. Leveraging the Lightning Network’s instant and low-cost transactions, residents embraced this digital currency revolution. Suddenly, a world of financial possibilities opened up, empowering individuals to send and receive money swiftly and efficiently.

As Bitcoin Beach flourished, a circular economy emerged, fueled by local businesses and supported by a network of global donors and enthusiasts. From grocery purchases to surfboard rentals, Bitcoin seamlessly integrated into daily transactions, driving economic growth and fostering a sense of community resilience. Mallers’ vision had become a reality, transforming El Zonte into a beacon of innovation and prosperity in the heart of El Salvador.

In recent news, another financial services company, Stripe, has reintroduced crypto payments. This time Stripe will be using USDC on the Ethereum (ETH) and Solana (SOL) blockchains. It marks a significant milestone in the mainstream acceptance of digital currencies. This move comes amid a growing trend toward embracing crypto as a legitimate form of payment, echoing the pioneering spirit witnessed in places like Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador.

Just as Bitcoin Beach transformed a local economy in El Zonte by adopting Bitcoin as a medium of exchange, Stripe’s decision to reintroduce crypto payments holds the potential to catalyze merchant adoption and actual usage of Bitcoin in the U.S.

By offering a seamless and efficient payment solution, powered by stablecoins like USDC on Ethereum and Solana, Stripe empowers businesses to embrace the benefits of cryptocurrency transactions without the volatility typically associated with traditional cryptocurrencies.

Moreover, Stripe’s initiative underscores a broader shift towards integrating crypto into everyday commerce. The goal is to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

With the infrastructure in place to facilitate secure and instantaneous transactions, merchants are more inclined to accept crypto payments. This move could pave the way for greater adoption among consumers.

As a result, the vision of a circular economy, where cryptocurrencies serve as a viable alternative to fiat currencies, inches closer to reality, mirroring the transformative impact witnessed in Bitcoin Beach and beyond.

In essence, Stripe’s reintroduction of crypto payments signals a pivotal moment in the evolution of digital currencies, opening doors to new opportunities for merchants and consumers alike.

As the world embraces the future of finance, inspired by innovative initiatives such as Bitcoin Beach, the potential for widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange continues to grow, shaping a more inclusive and decentralized financial landscape.

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This article previously appeared on Investing Daily.