conectabitcoin

Argentina-based exchange Bitex.la is acquiring and relaunching a bitcoin-buying service aimed at novice bitcoin users in Latin America.

The move sees the firm closing its offshoot company, bitcoin marketplace Conectabitcoin.com, as a separate entity and spinning that product into its real-time bitcoin exchange.

Bitex.la was launched in May as the first regional bitcoin exchange connecting all Latin American countries. Its initial product was directed at seasoned traders; providing the ability to place orders where trading had previously not been easily accessible.

Conectabitcoin’s chief marketing officer Manu Beaudroit told CoinDesk the service provided is similar to Coinbase‘s offering in terms of use. However, the mechanics differ, as customers do not need to connect their bank accounts to send funds.

Nubis Bruno, Conectabitcoin founder and Bitex.la chief product officer, explained: “The new Conectabitcoin will be a two-step process where you can just state how much you want to spend in local currency, pay through Astropay, and have bitcoin credited to your Bitex.la account.”

He added:

“Conectabitcoin is a nice smallish product that makes Bitex way friendlier for newcomers, a straight line from fiat to bitcoin in Latin America using Astropay-supported payment methods.”

The rebranded Conectabitcoin will be available to users in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, along with Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

Popular product

In its previous incarnation Conectabitcoin was an over-the-counter exchange comparable to Finland-based bitcoin marketplace LocalBitcoins. Beaudroit told CoinDesk that while it had been useful for the community, it didn’t pay back as much as he and his partners had hoped.

“Conectabitcoin was really good,” he said. “People were using it a lot, it had an escrow cheaper than the one from LocalBitcoins. But our focus was more on selling the bitcoin ourselves than generating a community where people can connect and buy and sell from each other.”

Conectabitcoin is now going to be powered by Bitex, explained Beaudroit. “Before now they were two products – now, Conectabitcoin is like a simple node of Bitex.”

Bitex will, however, preserve the Conectabitcoin brand name for its new service, since users of both platforms are already familiar and content with Conectabitcoin, he said, adding:

“We think there is a niche of people who would love to get their first bitcoin in the easiest way possible.”

Growing community

One of the service’s greatest assets is that users can cash in and cash out in almost any location in the region, according to Beaudroit. Although other firms in Latin America like BlinkTrade have provided liquidity across the region through stockbrokers, they have done so in each country separately.

“We think that Latin America is going to be one of the biggest [bitcoin] markets in a few years and we’d like to put our chips in the region,” he said.

He added that Bitex had identified a growing interest in bitcoin adoption from “less techy people” and “non-bitcoiners”. The company sees this growing demographic as an opportunity to increase adoption of the digital currency by making access to it as simple as possible.

In its home market of Argentina, where inflation is expected to surpass 30% by the end of the year, the highly volatile peso has driven a black market demand for US dollars and shone some light on bitcoin’s prospects for the economy.

The magnitude of the Argentinean bitcoin community is low for now, Beaudroit said, adding:

“The bitcoin community right now is around 7,000 people. It’s growing all the time and more people in the community are starting to look at bitcoin as a way of buying dollars in some way because they are not pesos. The problem here is people don’t believe in the peso because of all the problems with our economy.”

“People like bitcoin because they can access the free market with a really fancy tool,” he concluded.

Globe image via Shutterstock

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