The Panama-based bitcoin company thinks it can help people from countries with poorly performing national currencies.

Having returned from the Satoshi Roundtable on an unnamed Caribbean island, Ira Miller of Coinapult has published a presentation on Slideshare entitled ‘A Fresh Start for Venezuela’. It describes the current economic situation in Venezuela and offers a bitcoin-powered solution “to protect their wealth and ability to conduct commerce”.

Venezuela, as the presentation states, is a country with the largest oil reserves in the world and a 95% literacy rate. However, after “years of mismanagement”, the inflation of the national currency, bolivar, reached 60% in 2014. Global oil prices have dropped to close to $50 a barrel while the national budget is balanced at $117 a barrel. Venezuela also has strict capital controls in place, and while the official exchange rate is 6.3 bolivars for one US dollar, on the black market one dollar can go for 180 bolivars. Most imported goods are no longer available.  

This means, says Miller, that Venezuelans should buy bitcoin and use it to make purchases abroad. The Venezuelan diaspora all over the world can also send bitcoins to their relatives in Venezuela. To protect customers from bitcoin volatility, Coinapult is proposing its service, Locks, that allows customers to peg their bitcoin balance to a more stable asset – US dollar, euro, British pound, gold, or silver. The presentation also mentions other target markets: inflationary currencies or countries with capital controls – for example, Coinapult notes, Russia, Greece, and Argentina.

The idea is not a new one. Since the beginning of the Venezuelan crisis, the option of adopting bitcoin “to bypass the exchange controls” was floated. A big issue, however, is how to get bitcoins in Venezuela. There is SurBitcoin, a Venezuelan exchange platform, and a bitcoin mining community profiting from subsidized electricity prices but Venezuelan bitcoin holders generally prefer to sell them for US dollars. One of the options previously proposed to bring more bitcoins into the country was paying Venezuelan online freelancers in bitcoin.

Coinapult is a Panama-based bitcoin wallet company, known for its Locks service and for making it possible to send bitcoins by email and SMS. It sees developing countries and their unbanked populations as its target audience.