Bitso soon will launch a new QR code payment tool in its wallet app that allows shoppers in Argentina to pay with crypto at a wide array of supermarkets, restaurants and other stores around the country, providing an alternative to the peso, as inflation batters the economy.
The Latin America-focused cryptocurrency exchange, which counts more than a million customers in Argentina, will start progressively rolling out the QR code option to users there starting Sept. 27.
“The idea is to make crypto more useful in more places, and allow all citizens to live their lives in crypto by buying everyday services,” Bitso’s Senior Vice President of Product Santiago Alvarado told The Block in an email.
The QR codes provide an additional option for Argentine consumers to save in crypto and spend it while visiting physical stores, especially relevant as inflation in the country approaches 80% compared with last year, and the peso's purchasing power declines.
Many stores in Argentina already offer the option of paying in fiat currency via QR codes, and Bitso’s wallet app will be able to scan these and offer users the option of paying with U.S.-dollar pegged stablecoins, the Dai stablecoin, ether, bitcoin or Argentine pesos. Bitso will then automatically convert the crypto into Argentine pesos for merchants at the time of purchase.
Bitso's wallet will be able to scan two of the most popular types of QR codes from payment services Mercado Pago and Modo, Alvarado said. Furthermore, Bitso’s app will be able to scan QR codes from “all other systems approved by the central bank,” he added.
QR codes are a popular payment method in Argentina. The country has the highest rate of QR code usage in Latin America, local economic publication El Cronista reported in August, citing data from the Mastercard New Payments Index.
Argentina ranked 13 on Chainalysis’ 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index.