Destinia, a popular online travel agency, has officially begun to accept bitcoin payments exclusively in Venezuela. The decision was made in light of recent financial crisis in Venezuela involving the demonetization of the Venezuelan bolivar and its rapid devaluation which ultimately rendered cash in the country worthless.
Local travelers, residents and other people within Venezuela are now able to book hotel rooms and flights using bitcoin, a digital currency that served the general population across the globe as an alternative to cash and reliable store of value throughout 2016.
Victor Oliva, Head of the Transportation Department at Destinia stated:
Venezuelans not only have many difficulties leaving the country, however also in paying with credit cards, as they can only do so in the local currency. Giving priority to Bitcoin as a payment method could be of help.
Destinia admits that Venezuela is not a strategically sound market for the company to focus on at this period of time. The economic instability has reduced activities within its tourism industry and the rapid devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar led to a serious economic crisis. However, for the benefit of its Venezuelan user base, the team pushed through with bitcoin payment integration.
With decent bitcoin infrastructure in place established by leading bitcoin exchanges including Surbitcoin, an increasing number of Venezuelans are purchasing bitcoin to protect their wealth and more importantly, obtain necessary goods to support the daily living of themselves and their families.
The Destinia platform has been accepting bitcoin payments since 2014 and is one of the very few hotels and flights booking platforms that have extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with the digital currency. Thus, the company feels confident enough to only accept bitcoin within the Venezuelan market, in consideration of the current financial situation of the country.
Destinia’s decision to eliminate fiat-based payment options and solely accept bitcoin within the Venezuelan market can be difficult to understand for most users in other countries. However, if the current Venezuelan economy and status of the monetary system in the country are analyzed, it is quite a simple decision to keep the market alive.
At the moment, it is virtually impossible to make payment with cash or credit cards in Venezuela. Therefore, even on platforms like Destinia, local users cannot book flights or hotel rooms with cash, mostly because cash is largely unavailable and its currency has lost its value.
Recent coverage by the NY Times revealed that families were dying of starvation and failure to acquire medicine, all due to the country’s worsening monetary system.
Although it is largely beneficial for the Destinia user base, bitcoin payment integration is also the only possible way Destinia can continue to operate within the Venezuelan market and sustain their market share in the country. Without bitcoin, local users will not be able to make any payments and ultimately, the platform will not see any sales in the region for the foreseeable future.
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