People can pay a slushie with crypto on the streets of “Bitcoin Valley”, a project in the Honduran tourist enclave of Santa Lucia that has seen the country enter the digital currency trend.
The small town in the mountains, 20 minutes from the capital Tegucigalpa, has become a bitcoin city.
Owners of large and small businesses in Santa Lucia are adapting to use cryptocurrencies as payment, hoping to attract more tourism.
“It will open up more opportunities and attract more people who want to use this currency,” said Cesar Andino, manager of the Los Robles shopping plaza.
The “Bitcoin Valley” project targets 60 companies that will initially be trained and will use cryptocurrencies to market their products and services, with the expectation of spreading these practices to more companies and nearby areas.
The initiative was jointly developed by the Blockchain Honduras organization, the Guatemalan cryptocurrency exchange consortium Coincaex, the Technological University of Honduras and the Municipality of Santa Lucia.
Ruben Carbajal Velazquez, professor at the Technological University, said: “The community of Santa Lucia will be trained to use and manage cryptocurrencies, deploy them in various businesses in the region and generate crypto tourism.”
While some Latin American countries are exploring the potential of cryptocurrencies, there are risks.
In September 2021, El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender with its own ‘Bitcoin Beach’ in the surfing hotspot El Zonte.
The Central American country’s bet on bitcoin has been hampered by the crypto market’s downturn and skepticism from multilateral lenders and rating agencies. The $105 million publicly disclosed asset is now worth approximately $57 million.
To cope with volatility, the Honduran “Bitcoin Valley” will “enable merchants to receive instant payments in the local currency, eliminating the risks of cryptocurrencies,” said Leonardo Paguada, founder of the Block Chain Honduras- organization.
Critics of bitcoin’s expansion have warned that operations of this kind could fuel money laundering and financial instability, while widening the digital divide, as poorer sections of society may struggle to access the technology.