Jorgelina Echavarría has a degree in economics and an educator on topics related to Bitcoin, blockchain technology and decentralized economies. Cointelegraph in Spanish spoke to her in Argentina to know her vision about these technologies and in particular the potential they have in the country that is in a deep economic crisis.
Fernando Quirós (FQ): What potential do you see as an economist for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies?
Jorgelina Echavarría (JE): The potential of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is enormous in many ways and goes beyond money. There is a spill-over effect on other areas of the economy. It has a social and technological impact. Fundamentally, it is necessary to redefine the relationship between the state and money, and cryptocurrencies are very powerful tools because they give more freedom to individuals who are now able to be their own bank. “
FQ: Do you see cryptocurrencies as a paradigm shift in finance?
JE: Total. Bitcoin has been aiming to represent a change since its inception, a decentralized alternative, a disruptive technology. Money and paradigm shifts in the way we use it always respond to the social / technological development that takes place first. Decentralized finances are the right way and will be preserved. They are an innovation that will also lead to changes in traditional financing. Years ago, since we saw new financial products and derivatives on the market with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
CF: Argentina is in a difficult economic situation. What role do cryptocurrencies play in this context?
JE: In Argentina there is an inflation situation that has become chronic. This means that it lasts for a long time and cannot be solved easily or quickly. Inflation was 53% in 2019 alone, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing until 2020. Government action has not been effective and the money issue is growing in the context of the coronavirus crisis. The peso continued to lose value against the US dollar, so the government had to determine what was called stock market shares to contain the value of the dollar. This measure stipulates that individuals can only buy $ 200 a month with a 30% surcharge. As a result of these measures, quotes other than the dollar appear; the blue dollar, which corresponds to the informal stock market, the stock dollar or MEP (electronic payment market) and the dollar “with liquidation” (which results from the purchase of dollars by shares or securities listed in Argentina and elsewhere in the international market to get them out of the country to bring an account abroad). There is also the Bitcoin dollar, the exchange rate that is included in Bitcoin trading in Argentine pesos and is generally close to the blue dollar. People and companies lose weight and go to the dollar as a store of value. In this context, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are a prevailing need in many Argentina to find an asset that is a haven for value.
FQ: Some believe that stablecoins are a solution to Bitcoin’s volatility. Do you think this is the case?
JE: To preserve the value of their assets, savers prefer to keep their capital in a stable currency like the dollar, without being tied to Bitcoin’s uncertainty. In the crypto world, this function is performed by stable coins because, like the Argentine peso, they serve as protection against the depreciation of the currency and maintain a parity of 1 to 1 against the dollar. Another feature of this market is its practicality, as it works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and with no spread between buying and selling. In addition, there is no government-imposed stable coin purchase limit in Argentina (nor does Bitcoin).
CF: Is there cryptocurrency education in traditional academic environments?
JE: Always more. Nowadays, very complete courses and training can be found in various educational rooms and universities. The demand in these areas is increasing and the academic offer is accompanying. In the beginning it wasn’t. Everything related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies was a very closed niche, the information was scattered and almost nobody knew about it.
CF: Do you think that the general population needs more financial education?
JE: Yes, completely. In Argentina, and I think there is a common denominator in many countries in the region, there is a low level of financial education. It is very important for everyone to understand how money works, how to save for retirement or how to protect against an inflation scenario. Financial literacy positions individuals better for decision making and provides them with tools to manage their income and expenses.
FQ: What do you think of blockchain technology? Which industries are most interested in Argentina?
JE: Blockchain technology is fascinating and one of the fastest growing branches of technology. Argentina has an important ecosystem of startups that are unanimously working to strengthen the sector and help more companies learn and use this technology. The most interested sectors are, for example, banks, companies that work with products that require traceability (meat, wine), real estate, etc.
QQ: What is Block Latina and what activities do they do?
JE: Block Latina is an educational space on social networks, created with the intent to provide valuable content for those interested in the crypto world, to support technological proliferation, to serve as a first kick for those just getting started and them to push an active role in your financial education. Since I started on Instagram, I’ve seen that the other side is very receptive. I never stop receiving messages from people with specific questions and seeking advice. My focus is therefore on teaching, the provision of courses, free group discussions and also personal advice.
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