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Argentina’s central bank is clamping down on crypto. In a statement yesterday, the bank said that payment platforms are now banned from offering digital assets like Bitcoin to customers.
The Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) said that the reason was to “mitigate risks.”
A number of popular companies—including fintech giant Ualá and online marketplace Mercado Libre—offer clients crypto trading.
“Payment service providers that offer payment accounts may not carry out or facilitate transactions with digital assets, including cryptoassets, that are not regulated by the competent national authority and authorized by the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic (BCRA) to their customers,” the Thursday statement said.
Los proveedores de servicios de pago no podrán realizar operaciones con criptoactivos ni facilitarlas desde sus aplicaciones o plataformas web.
Las personas interesadas deberán realizar las operaciones por su cuenta.
— BCRA (@BancoCentral_AR) May 4, 2023
The bank did not expand on why, other than to protect customers, in the announcement.
It now means that major platforms, including Mercado Libre, Latin America’s answer to Amazon, will no longer be able to offer Argentinians Bitcoin buying services.
Argentina—Latin America’s third largest economy—right now suffers from one of the worst inflation rates in the world: It soared past 100% last month for the first time in three decades.
A number of crypto startups in the country and even one popular presidential candidate have preached the use of Bitcoin as a savior for ordinary Argentinians who cannot save or are being pushed into poverty because of the collapse of the peso.
Although cryptocurrencies aren’t regulated in the South American nation, they are becoming popular. Blockchain data firm Chainalysis has said Argentina is one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrency markets; last year it ranked it at number 13 in its 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index.
Bitcoin Traders in Argentina Restricted From Buying Dollars
Buenos Aires, the country’s capital, last year hosted the major LaBitConf event where a number of cryptocurrency bigwigs—including MicroStrategy boss Michael Saylor and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin—spoke about Argentina’s growing role in the crypto ecosystem.