In October 2021, it was estimated that approximately 15% of the world’s supply of Bitcoin (BTC) was in circulation in Latin America. According to a recent report released by Crypto Literacy, however, 99% of Brazilian and Mexican respondents failed a basic assessment on crypto literacy. Crypto adoption is well underway across the region — on the rise even — but, people still lack a basic understanding of its underlying technology and use cases.
When this lack of basic crypto literacy is considered in the context of developing markets across Latin America, where the use cases for blockchain technologies hold real significance, it becomes a serious concern.
Latin American populations who lack crypto literacy risk missing out on stablecoins that can offer protection against Latin America’s rapidly rising inflation. As well as decentralized applications (DApps) that provide populations of unbanked individuals access to financial services from their mobile devices. In countries where remittances are a major facet of the economy, cryptocurrencies offer a faster and cheaper alternative for sending funds across borders.
So, how can we help Latin America’s most underserved populations access this life-changing technology? Education.
Unlocking mainstream adoption through education
Education has the potential to address three key obstacles preventing mainstream crypto adoption: financial literacy, trust and safety.
Financial literacy, or lack thereof, does not just stand as a barrier to crypto adoption: It stands as a barrier to traditional bank adoption as well. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, nearly 50 percent of the population is unbanked as of August 2021, lacking access to a bank account or other financial services. In addition to living far from financial institutions, many individuals cite an absence of trust in institutions as a reason for remaining unbanked. Where there is little trust, there is often a lack of understanding.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s not rare in Mexico to hear stories of parents recommending that their (adult) children exchange their savings for United States dollars and hide it away in a safe rather than trusting those earnings with a financial institution. By building financial literacy both around broad financial concepts and more concentrated blockchain-related concepts, we can inspire greater trust in financial institutions as a key pillar for promoting mainstream adoption.
The trust that education garners is more than just trust in financial institutions. It’s also trusting yourself: When people don’t understand the institutions and tools with which they’re interacting, those individuals are more likely to make risky financial decisions. And, they know that. Education can serve as one form of a safety net, teaching individuals which regulations are and are not in place to protect them so they can understand how financial services fit within those regulatory frameworks.
Teach where it matters most
Crypto has the potential to change the world and those who understand it best will be at a huge advantage. Knowing the power that education creates, it’s important that the crypto world targets audiences strategically to perpetuate already entrenched inequalities. Remote and underserved communities, as well as those with less access to traditional education, should be at the forefront of the recipients of blockchain education.
For remote communities, we must create mobile-friendly educational opportunities so that individuals can access learning materials from their phones without needing to travel miles to the nearest city.
For those with less education, we must consider multimedia educational materials that circumnavigate the need for literacy without assuming high-level base knowledge.
For women, mentorship programs and role models are key to creating welcoming and inclusive spaces that are explicitly designed to bring women into crypto.
For global audiences, we should create resources in local languages — Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America — to ensure we reach the widest audience possible.
For everyone involved, we must avoid instituting financial barriers to education — trusting in the long-term gain of growing user bases through free and accessible education.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies were built to break through the power structures of traditional finance. They have the potential to drastically improve financial inclusion and freedom in Latin America. So, it’s no wonder that crypto adoption is already on the rise. With mass adoption of such new technology, however, we face a new risk of leaving the most vulnerable populations behind. Education can solve this. Education can create trust in this rapidly-advancing technology and instill knowledge that enables individuals to interact safely with these new tools. Education can break the cycle of financial exclusion.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Abraham Cobos Ramírez is the crypto strategy manager at Bitso, the cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, with more than four million users. Abraham is a blockchain and business specialist with deep experience in the creation, development and implementation of technology solutions. Prior to Bitso, Abraham was part of the integration consulting team where he designed and implemented solutions to complex problems for projects in Mexico, the U.S., Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.
Fed report finds most Americans who own crypto tend to be high income hodlers
Only 12% of American adults used crypto in 2021, and the demographic gap between those who invested in it and those who used it in transactions was enormous.
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The United States Federal Reserve Board has included data on cryptocurrency in its new Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in the 2021 report. The Fed’s ninth annual report looked at survey results from 11,000 people questioned in October and November 2021.
The report indicated financial wellbeing is the highest it has been since reporting began, with 78% of U.S. adults “doing okay or living comfortably financially.” That is an increase of 3% over the last three years. As a diagnostic of financial fitness, the report cites the 68% of Americans who say they could cover a $400 emergency expense using cash or its equivalent alone.
The report looked at cryptocurrency usage for the first time. It found that 12% of U.S. adults held or used crypto in 2020, with 11% holding it as an investment, 2% using it for a purchase or payment and 1% sending it to friends or family. Investors holding crypto “were disproportionately high-income, almost always had a traditional banking relationship, and typically had other retirement savings.” Forty-six percent had annual incomes of $100,000 or more and 89% of those who were not retired had retirement savings. Twenty-nine percent had incomes under $50,000.
The profile of the typical user making transactions with crypto differs starkly from investors. The report claimed that almost 60% of these users had incomes below $50,000, with 20% having incomes under $25,000. Only 24% had incomes above $100,000. Thirteen percent did not have a bank account. That compares with the 6% of adult Americans who lack bank accounts. Twenty-seven percent of those who used crypto for transactions did not have credit cards, compared to 17% of the total population.
Those who used crypto for transactions faced other disadvantages as well. Almost a quarter did not have a high school diploma, according to the results of the report.
WEF 2022: Bankers at WEF see the need for caution and speed on central bank digital currencies
Experts point out sticking points as well as greatest needs in the creation of central bank digital currencies for domestic and cross-border, wholesale and retail, uses.
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The process of introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) is fraught with unknowns, some of which were elucidated in a panel of experts gathered Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The panel concluded that good design is key to a successful CBDC, and there are fewer challenges for wholesale CBDC introduction.
Bank of Thailand governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said that although many central banks are considering a CBDC, there is little practical experience with them. The Thai National Bank began proof-of-concept programs in 2018. Its mBridge project began as an experiment in establishing a cross-border wholesale payment corridor with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and has grown to include the Bank of China, the United Arab Emirates and the Bank for International Settlements. Cross-border transactions using traditional banking technology can take days to complete, while CBDC transactions are much faster.
Suthiwartnarueput said the use of blockchain technology can have unintended consequences. It is good for transparency, he said, but anonymity affects scalability. There is risk in a CBDC’s design because smart contracts require that the handling of every situation be specified ahead of time. He cited the current sanctions on Russia as an example of a potential challenge to CBDC design. The Thai central bank is looking at a “limited pilot” for a retail CBDC in the fourth quarter of this year.
International transactions between persons, especially remittances from workers located in other countries, which make up a market of $48 billion per year, are one of the most pressing use cases for CBDCs. Suthiwartnarueput said CBDCs can carry out such transactions at 50% less expensive and 68% faster than current money transfer technology. Currently, the average fee for a transfer of this type is 6.3% of the transaction sum.
Credit Suisse chairman Axel Lehmann pointed out the rapid progress being made by non-blockchain fast payment technologies and raised questions for domestic retail CBDCs, such as whether accounts with central banks would pay interest. Privacy and intermediation are other thorny issues for retail CBDCs. International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said, “We feel a little behind the curve” in the creation of retail CBDCs, and Bank of France governor François Villeroy de Galhau agreed, saying a “CBDC is not the monopoly on progress,” and central banks should not waste time in introducing it.
Suthiwartnarueput and the French central banker agreed that cross-border wholesale CBDC settlements may become a reality within five years.
fUSD stablecoin launch and rumors of Cronje’s return send Fantom (FTM) price higher
After a strong 2,000% rally in early 2021, Fantom (FTM) price collapsed alongside multiple altcoins and even though the blockchain has an impressive capability, it has yet to find mass adoption due to the lack of a compelling use case. FTM price hit an all-time high at $3.46, only to collapse to its pre-bull market lows under $0.25 after the failure of the Solidly DeFi project and the departure of developer Andre Cronje.
Three reasons for the uptrend in FTM price are the launch of the first native stablecoin on the Fantom network, new protocol upgrades and partnership announcements, which bring new functionality to the network, and speculation that Andre Cronje is working with decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols on Fantom.
Fantom launches its first native stablecoin
The most notable development to occur in the Fantom ecosystem in the past few weeks was the release of fUSD, the first native stablecoin on the network.
The launch of fUSD comes on the heels of the collapse of TerraUSD and looks to capture some of the capital flight from algorithmic stablecoin by offering an over-collateralized alternative.
On May 20, the Fantom Foundation released an update outlining the maximum collateral factor and minting cap for each supported form of collateral. The foundation also set the fUSD staking reward at 11.3%
The update also included details on Fantom liquid staking, setting a global cap of 150 million staked Fantom (sFTM), removing validators for the list of those eligible to mint sFTM and setting a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of FTM at 90% for the purposes of minting sFTM.
New partnerships improve sentiment for FTM
A handful of recent protocol updates and new partnerships have also helped to bring a boost in momentum to Fantom, including the launch of Snapsync, which allows new nodes to quickly join the network.
With the integration of Snapsync, the time it takes for new nodes to synch could be reduced from 24 to seven hours, helping to enhance network reliability, improve scalability and create a greater degree of decentralization.
Fantom has also announced that it is currently in the process of launching Gitcoin on the Fantom network to simplify the process of obtaining grants to develop in the Fantom ecosystem.
Fantom also partnered with Unmarshal and XP.Network. Unmarshal is a Web3 infrastructure provider that will integrate its indexing services with the Fantom protocol to give developers easy access to organized and granular on-chain data.
Through the partnership with XP.Network, Fantom users will be able to bridge nonfungible tokens (NFTs) between Ethereum (ETH), BNB Smart Chain (BNB), Elrond (EGLD), Aurora (AURORA), Tron (TRX), Avalanche (AVAX) and Velas (VLX).
Did Andre Cronje return?
Another factor, albeit speculative, bringing a boost FTM price is speculation that well-known DeFi developer Andre Cronje could be contributing toward DeFi development on the Fantom network.
Amid rumors about the return of lead DeFi developer Andre Cronje, the price of the native FTM token has risen by almost 40%. Cronje proposed a number of measures aimed at stabilizing the situation and increasing the sustainability of the Fantom ecosystem as a whole.
— Ashley Torres (@torresamba) May 23, 2022
The speculation started when Cronje submitted an fUSD optimization proposal that designed to solve a major depegging issue with the stablecoin on May 20 . A Fantom wallet that is believed to belong to Cronje has also added more than 100 million FTM over the past two weeks.
VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro began to detect a bullish outlook for FTM on May 20, prior to the recent price rise.
The VORTECS™ Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historical and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.
As seen in the chart above, the VORTECS™ Score for FTM spiked to a high of 89 on May 20 at the same time as its price began to increase 62.3% over the next three days.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
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