Bitcoin Fails to Take Off At Peru Startup Challenge

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Latin America is widely believed to one of the markets that could most benefit from digital currency, as the region’s consumers and businesses have been afflicted by volatile government-backed currencies, capital controls and high remittance costs.

Given these challenges, a small but passionate local bitcoin industry has emerged in Latin America, with the aim of giving local consumers access to both an alternative currency and a modern payments technology. Further, market leaders such as Bitex.la and BitPagos are now expanding with assistance from large, international investors.

Despite its position of interest in the bitcoin space, bitcoin awareness remains low in some parts of the region, according to Roger Benites, the founder of Peru-based bitcoin startup BitInka. Benites said his belief has never been stronger than in the aftermath his company’s entrance into Digital Bank Latam 2014, a startup incubator challenge in his home country.

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The event, which took place on 23rd September, aimed to showcase exciting new ideas that could improve the domestic banking industry. BitInka entered the contest aiming to appeal to banks looking for solutions to fiat exchange restrictions in the region.

Despite the potential appeal of the idea, however, the audience at the event wasn’t receptive to BitInka’s pitch. Benites told: “Banks still frown upon bitcoin, and in a country like Peru where almost no bitcoin businesses exist, showcasing the product created a lot of questions. The [competition] placed BitInka as a bank, and [judges] did not understand how using bitcoin to collect funds would benefit them.”

While most contestants showcased platforms aimed at social media in marketing, BitInka was the only bitcoin company that entered, according to Benites.

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Benites described BitInka as a digital wallet merged with a bitcoin exchange. Users can send and receive bitcoin as well as fiat currencies. BitInka currently supports the US dollar, Argentine peso, Bolivian boliviano, Peruvian sol and Venezuelan bolivar.

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