Oct 30, 2023

Argentina will choose between current Finance Minister Sergio Massa and pro-bitcoin candidate Javier Milei in next month’s presidential election.

Video transcript

Argentina's presidential election is heading to a runoff vote next month. It's a battle between current Finance Minister Sergio Massa and Pro Bitcoin candidate Javier Nele. Joining us now is to discuss is the Chief Financial Officer for Lemon, a crypto exchange with operations in Argentina, Maxi Ramondi. Welcome to the show. Hello, thank you for welcoming me. How are you? Of course, of course. Now let's talk about what's going on in Argentina inflation as we know is running at more than 130% per year. Pro Bitcoin candidate Javier Mile has been a proponent of dollarization. Talk to us about how crypto is being spoken about ahead of this election. Yes, of course. Um As you know, Argentina is real boat country, we have a huge inflation. We also have a a devaluation. The peso has lost almost 65% of its value in comparison to us. Dollar. So when the market has this kind of volatility, uncertainty, a lot of people is willing to, to take their uh their pesos into a solid or into a something where they can, they can believe on. No. So and we have, we have seen a lot of people acquiring stable coins, another crypto asset during, during this election period or even when, when you have, for example, when the previous Minister of Economy resigned. So we our transactions increase like free, free X from previous weekend. So we see this kind of movement and transactions going, going up each time that we have a kind of election or either something uh some uh volatility episode in, in our, in our, in our life. No. Um in August, we, when the primary took election took place, the primary election took place, we also saw free acts of activity, increase the activity people willing to uh have in their assets, uh stable coins with. So a lot of increasing the table coins increasing a lot and we do have like the all time high transactions during that period. The same thing happened during the election on the last day that this primary election that took place a few days ago and we were prepared for that episode to happen. Now. Uh people are willing and they are seeking for stable coins to cover their pesos. So I I look at the poster behind you rock and roll high school. I I think you do care about history. Um And you know about the his, of course, the history of Argentina and its problems with its currencies over the years. Uh and, and there's attaching it to the dollar and then decoupling et cetera has this recent election. Changed the view in Argentina about where it's its currency needs to go and how it needs to be solved regardless of whether or not Mele wins. What happens uh going forward? Do you think that the dialogue has changed? And along those lines, is it just that he's, he's being portrayed as just pro Bitcoin? But is it more a philosophical view that um that the Argentine peso needs to basically be among many other currencies that can be used in Argentina as a uh in, in, in a free market sort of way? Has it, has that kind of discussion happened in Argentina? And do you think it will? Well, actually, you know, Argentina, Argentina is a country where m most part of the people are look for the uh for the asset in the dollar in a dollar way. No, for example, the houses here they are, you pay dollars whenever you wanna acquire a house, whenever you wanna buy a car, you also you talk about dollars. So our, our mind is really turned to dollars from many years ago. So all of all the Argentine people try to think uh whenever you have any saving, you try to think in dollars and you try to save in dollars. Um So we see that the peso that we saw the peso lost a lot of value during the, the years and in terms of the people willing to um have it safe, really safe. So they look for this kind of, this kind of, of currency, either the low dollar or right now the stable coins in terms of what's going on right now, as I mentioned before, we, a lot of people is we is moving their, the safe into all the safe they have into maybe stable coins or either other crypto or either other crypto assets. But what, what's going on actually, um about Javier Mile talking about the dollarization. We don't know, we actually at least myself, I do not know if that's gonna happen if that's gonna be uh possible in the coming the coming month. Having a dollarized economy is really tough. I believe we do not have enough dollars to, to make that happen. But all of them are most of them actually right now, we have only two or two candidates. That's why we're going, we're facing the ballot in the coming in a few weeks. So both of them are, it sounds, it sounds like stablecoins are really an alternative to the dollar for Argentinians. Talk to us, talk to us about the infrastructure in place if Argentinians are saving stablecoins is there infrastructure in Argentina for them to be able to spend those stable coins on everyday goods or houses and cars like you mentioned, like you just mentioned. Yes. Uh we do have, we do have an infrastructure, for example, lemon is one of the main or actually the largest uh exchange exchange rate on crypto wallet in Argentina. So you can use your Stablecoins and pay in stablecoins in many different, in many different stores. You convert the le the co lemon converts the the Stablecoins into fiat currency. And we pay we the, we pay the stores with using that fiat currency. No, so we do the conversion le in lemon but the people, the users do have the money saved in, in Stablecoins and they have the, the returns on a basic um on a Stablecoin. So day after day, the stable coins and crypto is is being used more and more you have, we have more than 5 million Argentinian that are using state that are using crypto and do have crypto accounts in lemon. We have 2.52 0.1 million users and from time to time, we are seeing more and more people converting and opening accounts. No, and the use case on a daily basis, they, it's really easy and can be done in a on a, in an easy way. So we see that. So in the meantime, uh besides uh so, first of all, which Stablecoins and by what percentage if you will do, you find interest uh on lemon. And then the other thing is of course, Bitcoin, of course, Ethereum. But what other uh alternative currencies are you finding uh have, have a lot of popularity on your platform? Yes. No, mainly we see mainly Bitcoin and Ethereum are the ones that are more popular on the on, on our, on our platform, on the stable coins, we talk about UTCU TT die. So those are the most current stable coins used by, by, by the people. By what percentage is it even US TT us DC or is one more than the other? No UCT is more than UCC. Actually UTC is pushing a lot in the market. They are willing to enter in Latin America harder but most of the users still choose for UCT. No. And then besides, and then besides uh Bitcoin and E any other ALTs, no, we have a lot of, we have a lot of other coins that people are using right now. But for, but Bitcoin and Ethereum are the more than are using right now. No, the people, the users prefer that, that tho those kind of assets. And maxi quickly before we go, we have this chart from CNAs that shows that Latin Americans prefer centralized exchanges over decentralized exchanges. What do you think that is? Well, maybe because that is an easy way the, the the users can enter into the crypto market. But we in lemon, we prefer the, the decentralized. We have all although we are AC FI company where we have our app and the user have our, their own accounts. We have all the assets on Decentralized. The people can choose having them on C I or D I and we promote really having the, the, the asset on D five. But Lemon is a, a very easy platform that they can use and I believe that's why they, they choose us. All right, Maxi, thanks so much for joining the show this morning. Thank you. That was London CFO Maxi Romani.

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