My name is Alvaro, I’m from Venezuela. Despite being an oil producing country with so many natural resources, our current situation is critical and affects all its inhabitants, the population is trying to survive in this painful scenario that our government has created.
Owing to the economic and social crisis of the last decade, many individuals including high-level professionals have emigrated from the country in search of better opportunities. In my case I have decided to remain in my country, and one of the major reasons is my family. My parents are elderly, they have given me everything in life and I consider that it requires a lot of family union for all the hardships we go through. It is difficult to find medicine for treatments due to the scarcity and to deal with the delinquency that lurks all the time, the hyperinflation that makes a dent in our finances , just to name a few of the many difficulties of Venezuelan day-to-day life.
Due to this, I decided to look for a alternative work that allowed me to feed my family, since the salary for an average professional like me, is around $50, it is not enough for all our basic needs. Therefore, in 2014, I started to investigate online businesses to generate some extra money, so i entered into the world of PTC (pay per click). Some of these businesses began to pay, but a setback emerged, the difficulty of receiving and converting my profits. Without having access to a bank account in dollars or paypal account it was very difficult to convert them to Bolivares. All this is due to the capital control that regulates the government, and the barriers to buy dollars or exchange them for a fair price, and having to resort to the black market for foreign exchange, which exposes you to a fraud or gets you into legal problems.
After days of research I got a answer to my dilemma. Some of these online pages also offer payments in Bitcoin, and of course I did not know what it was. I thought it was another payment processor, ignoring the potential of the cryptocurrency world, thus allowing me to bypass the need for a bank account abroad, credit cards, or the fear of being swindled by a third party. The convertibility of the BTC allowed me to pay the bills for my everyday life and protected me from devaluation and hyperinflation, as well as allowing me to buy through the Internet the products that are not in my country.
Of course it was not easy to understand how the whole system worked at the beginning, I started opening my first BTC wallet in Electrum, (with my third world internet, downloading the whole blockchain would have taken ages!) Then I opened my account at Localbitcoins where I converted to Bolivares. After a while I managed to turn all my income into BTC, including some personal belongings, and although the PTC businesses are not sustainable, I got the best of the situation, to find this currency that gave me freedom and the empowerment of my personal finances. After all, my family depends on it.
All of this was my preamble to the world of trading. One day I saw how the value of my BTC had doubled from $ 300 to $ 600 (I had not checked in months) and I told myself, I had to learn a little more about the market movements. What should I do if the BTC raised in price again? Would there be any way to hedge in case it goes down?, Then I found a way, the Exchanges, these allowed me to change them to dollars when necessary without a bank account, thus maintaining the value of my work in times of volatility.
And while it is not risk free, I believe that all the opportunities that Bitcoin offers to people like me, living in highly regulated countries, in unfavourable economic conditions, outweighs the inherent risks of BTC and the knowledge necessary to manage them . At the end of the day Bitcoin has been a lifesaver for Venezuelans like me, trying to preserve the effort of our work, and an alternative to our regulated financial system, which gives people that decides to keep living in this beautiful country to continue struggling to survive without giving up and pushing forward our homeland.
Although the local economy is suppressed and we suffer from capital controls, I’m able to make money working online and getting paid in bitcoin. Stay tuned as I will be reporting on Bitcoin related activity in Venezuela.