Over the weekend, Bitcoin has crossed $4,000 mark and, according to market experts, is going to remain bullish for quite some time now. Considering the global interest for Bitcoin, people start wondering if Bitcoin tourism can become a thing any time soon. What impact does it have on emerging economies?
Airlines and travel companies
At one point, AirBaltic, one of the most innovative airlines in the world, has started to accept Bitcoin as a payment method. Despite the criticism, this step was a beginning of a new movement, allowing Bitcoin enthusiasts to travel the world with their favorite cryptocurrency. Since then, many airlines and travel companies have followed the example of AirBaltic.
The reasons behind such decision are quite obvious. Considering the growing interest for Bitcoin all over the world, it becomes a perfect currency for traveling. With Bitcoin, you no longer need to worry about exchanging currencies and bank fees. You can send and receive money from practically everywhere, as long as you have access to internet. It’s also often safer than using credit or debit cards. Digital money serves as a hedge against inflation and keeps increasing its value in the marketplace. It is no wonder that many emerging markets in Asia and Latin America are happily welcoming the use of cryptocurrency.
In 2013, Bitcoin got criminalized by the central Bank of Thailand. However, the institution has changed its mind in the following year. Popular tourist places in Pattaya started accepting Bitcoin as soon as the government stopped considering it illegal. As a result, a lot of tourists are coming to Thailand to spend their Bitcoin.
However, the adoption of Bitcoin had a pretty slow start. At the very beginning, only a few restaurants and businesses were accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method. Eventually, a lot of merchants have recognized the advantages of accepting Bitcoin. In June, Bitcoin hit a record of 92,000 baht, leading to a nationwide mining hardware shortage.
Thailand isn’t the only Asian country that is highly interested in Bitcoin. Despite falling behind on internet services as compared to the rest of the world, Philippines has enabled LTE usage within the country. 4G is one of the main reasons that has fueled the popularity of Bitcoin.
In Philippines, the adoption of cryptocurrency has happened faster and at a larger scale than in Thailand. One of the local payment platforms, Coins.ph, allows locals and even tourists to pay their utility bills, credit cards, tuition, purchase cellphone credit, send and receive money, and even withdraw it at local ATMs – all using Bitcoin.
The island country is working towards becoming more connected. On august 3rd, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed a special project, aiming to provide free internet connection in all public places.
On the other side of the world, Bitcoin movement is being just as successful. Mexico is a perfect place for a digital dream to come true. 60% of the locals aren’t using bank cards, however, 80% of the population owns a cellphone. The gaining interest for cryptocurrency seems perfectly logical in this country.
Another reason for Mexicans to set their eye on Bitcoin is purely political. After the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, a lot U.S. based Mexicans are afraid to send money home. Bitcoin provides such families with an opportunity to do so without feeling frightened.
Despite the growing support for Bitcoin among the citizens of Mexico, the government isn’t feeling 100% secure about adopting cryptocurrency. According to the Governor of the Bank of Mexico, they are currently running experiments to eliminate concerns such as hacking and theft. Another reason is the development of regulation policies based on international experience.
Although Mexico doesn’t cater to Bitcoin tourists in the same way as Thailand and the Philippines, the large-scale popularity of the cryptocurrency can make it one of the most desired travel destinations in the world.
The examples mentioned above indicate a huge positive impact Bitcoin may have on emerging markets.
With the outlining of regulation and further popularization of cryptocurrency, such markets see Bitcoin adoption as an opportunity to gain more of an equal footing in the worldwide economy. For example, Palestinians don’t have their own currency. In Venezuela, people use Bitcoin to hedge against inflation. Even in Africa, Bitcoin is starting to gain ground.
Considering the attention Bitcoin has been receiving from financial and banking institutions, try to have a conversation about cryptocurrency with a local barkeep next time you go on vacation. You may be surprised.