Venezuela set a new record for the amount it traded for Bitcoin (BTC) last week, showing cryptocurrency’s continued appeal in the face of ongoing political turmoil.
17.1 Billion Bolivars For Bitcoin
Data from Coin Dance, which tracks volumes on P2P trading platform Localbitcoins, showed that in fiat terms, the seven days ending February 2 were the busiest on record for Venezuela.
The country’s embattled currency the sovereign bolivar (VES) suffers from rampant hyperinflation, with capital controls and a shortage of foreign currency leaving residents with only one choice to secure their wealth: Bitcoin.
Almost 17.1 billion VES changed hands on Localbitcoins last week – clipping the all-time high set the week before by almost 1.2 billion VES.
In Bitcoin terms, the period was Venezuelans’ second largest at 1972 BTC.
Law Will Fine ‘Unauthorized’ Crypto Users
The surge in cryptocurrency popularity has not gone unnoticed by authorities. On Monday, the text of a new law regulating the sector, from buying and selling to even how law enforcement can allow itself to confiscate mining equipment, appeared the country’s official gazette.
The move gives regulators overarching power concerning cryptocurrency exchanges and other official businesses, but controlling P2P services, such as Finnish Localbitcoins, all but impossible.
According to the law, those ‘officially’ flouting the rules, which also extend to Venezuela’s state-issued cryptocurrency Petro, can face severe penalties of up to $ 18,000, local cryptocurrency media outlet Cryptonoticias reports.
The publication quotes the document as stating:
Those who operate or perform any type of activity related to the constitution, issuance, organization, operation and use of (Petro) or cryptocurrencies, including mining, without the proper authorization of the governing body and in breach of the other formalities required by this Constituent Decree, they will be sanctioned with a fine equivalent to 100 to 300 (Petro).
Among those in line for such sanctions could be Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, whom commentators suspect has considerable Bitcoin holdings. Authorities moved to quarantine Guaido’s fiat bank accounts last week.
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Images courtesy of Shutterstock, coin.dance