People can pay for a slushie with crypto in the streets of “Bitcoin Valley,” a project in the Honduran tourist enclave of Santa Lucia through which the country ushered in the digital currency trend.
The small town in the mountains, 20 minutes from the capital Tegucigalpa, has become a bitcoin town.
Owners of businesses large and small in Santa Lucia are adapting to handling cryptocurrencies as a form of payment in hopes of attracting more tourism.
“This will open up more opportunities and attract more people who want to use this currency,” said Cesar Andino, manager of the Los Robles shopping square.
The “Bitcoin Valley” project aims to initially train 60 businesses to adopt cryptocurrencies and market their products and services, hoping to spread these practices to more enterprises and nearby regions.
The initiative was jointly developed by the Blockchain Honduras Organization, the Guatemalan cryptocurrency exchange consortium Coinex, the Technical University of Honduras, and the Municipality of Santa Lucia.
“The community of Santa Lucia will be educated on how to use and manage cryptocurrencies, apply them to various businesses in the region, and generate crypto-tourism,” said Professor Rubén Carbajal Velázquez from the Technological University.
While some Latin American countries are exploring the potential of cryptocurrencies, there are also risks.
In September 2021, El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender with its own ‘Bitcoin Beach’ in the surfing hotspot city of El Zonte.
The Central American country’s bet on bitcoin was hampered by a downturn in the crypto market and suspicion from multilateral lenders and rating agencies. Its publicly stated holdings of $105 million are now worth about $57 million.
In order to combat volatility, Honduran “Bitcoin Valley” will “enable merchants to receive instant payments in local currency, eliminating the risk of volatility in cryptocurrencies,” said Leonardo Paguada, founder of the Blockchain Honduras organization. “
Critics of bitcoin’s expansion warn that such operations could lead to money laundering and financial instability while widening the digital interoperability, as poorer sections of society may struggle to access the technology.