The Central Bank of Argentina has requested that all banking institutions in the country submit information about customers who have carried out any transaction with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or hold cryptocurrencies in their digital portfolios.
The move furthers a plan that President Alberto Fernandez set in motion last year in an attempt to control capital outflows and curb inflation. The Argentine peso, the country’s national currency, has already lost 10% of its value this year. During the administration of the previous president, Mauricio Macri, the peso lost about 84% of its value in his four years in office.
The regulatory board of Argentina’s central bank is demanding that banks turn over the names, addresses, tax ID numbers, and account numbers of any clients who have touched crypto, regional news outlet Infobae reported.
According to a note shared by a banking association, the central bank is demanding from financial institutions any "information that allows identifying customers who have accounts for holding crypto assets or who have declared or are known to carry out the purchase and/or sale and/or management of payments through crypto assets." Banks were given until Wednesday, April 7, to send the required information.
The central bank’s demands may not come as a shock to crypto users in the country. As Decrypt reported last year, Argentina's government has been trying to control the growing cryptocurrency market within the country for some time, partly based on fears that Argentines fleeing the inflation-riddled peso will lead to further devaluation of the currency. In May 2020, Argentina's Financial Information Unit (UIF) began pushing for tighter controls over the trading of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
"In recent times there has been an increase in transactions carried out through virtual assets," said the FIU President Carlos Alberto Cruz in a statement at the time. These transactions "could be being carried out by people who intend to circumvent international standards and avoid the preventive money laundering system," he said.
For years, Argentines have had to look for solutions outside of their national currency to safeguard their assets, and the use of the US dollar has become a sort of informal standard for pricing and other transactions. In the face of government restrictions on access to foreign currency, the price of the parallel dollar—known as the blue dollar, a dollar traded on the black market to circumvent legal restrictions—is now an indicator of the purchasing power of the Argentine peso.
But even the physical dollar is scarce and seizable, so a relatively small but growing segment of people in Argentina have turned to trading and hodling cryptocurrencies as an alternative way to safeguard their wealth. After all, cryptocurrencies are priced in dollars and are traded in less regulated and restricted markets.
In Argentina, Dai is trading at 71.6 pesos, while the U.S. dollar rate is at 56. That's a huge premium to hold digital dollars. Reason: Tightening currency controls 💸💸
Argentina's $$ Premiums:
Black market USD: 7%
(h/t @rubendario222 for pic)
— Camila Russo (@CamiRusso) September 18, 2019
Bitcoin remains a very popular choice in Argentina, but those who are not fond of the volatility of cryptocurrency prices have opted to trade DAI—a decentralized stablecoin pegged to the dollar. The Ethereum-based token has a very strong community of users in Argentina, and it has at times even traded at high premiums against the dollar.