Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are growing in popularity in the South American nation of Colombia, according to a new survey conducted by consumer-insights firm Toluna Insights.
The survey, commissioned by peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange Paxful, found that close to 87 percent of those polled were aware of crypto, and 80 percent said they would consider investing. This despite a poor regulatory framework in Colombia that makes it difficult to trade and use cryptocurrencies within the country.
"Countries around the world are now taking a closer look at how to contend with the rise of the crypto-economy and the survey reinforced that," said Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful, a company which has been eyeing an expansion into Latin America. "We did a university tour in some African countries earlier this year, and we hope to replicate it in Colombia and other countries in Latin America," he told Decrypt.
The Paxful/Toluna Insights survey polled more than 1,000 randomly selected Colombian Internet users in July, over half of which were female, with 59 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34.
Of those who said they were aware of and would invest in cryptocurrency, the vast majority—79.7 percent—said Bitcoin was their crypto of choice. In fact, the only other cryptocurrencies that registered on the scale were Ethereum, at 3.26 percent, and—curiously—Bytecoin at 4.75 percent. (Could they have misread it as “Bitcoin”?)
Perhaps even more surprising is the staggeringly optimistic 91 percent of Colombians who said they believed “cryptocurrencies will mark the future of world trade." That level of confidence is striking, given the regulatory uncertainty in Colombia regarding the rules that govern digital assets.
While "cryptos are understood as an asset that can be traded," the platforms upon which these transactions are carried out operate in uncertain legal territory, Colombian Congressman Mauricio Toro explained in an interview with Decrypt.
Following a memo from the Financial Superintendence of Colombia issued a few months ago, bank accounts belonging to any platform that allows for the exchange of cryptoassets continue to be shut down, Toro said. The understanding being that the Colombian state “recognizes cryptoassets, but not the platforms that make it possible to exchange them."
Toro has been working extensively with financial institutions to make Colombia’s legal framework regarding cryptocurrency more flexible—an effort that is sure to resonate with the crypto-curious Colombians who responded to this latest survey.
While close to one-third of those polled say they currently transact in crypto, some 86 percent said Colombia is in need of proper cryptocurrency legislation.