Zcash Offers Venezuelans a Lifeline
According to the latest news reports, Venezuelans are finding an unexpected savior in Zcash. Here’s how. A few months ago, Zooko Wilcox, the CEO, as well asthe founder of the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company (ZECC), was contacted by someone in Venezuela for help. And, according to Wilcox, the cries for help got more frequent.
The problem that most Venezuelans were facing due to a corrupt regime being in power – besides the human rights violations – was that the government has hyper-inflated the country’s currency, the bolivar. This meant that the currency was almost completely worthless. Venezuelans were therefore looking for a way to store value in the US dollar.
The challenge was that while the government hadn’t quite banned the USD, the official exchange rate made it impossible to own that currency legally. This meant that many people were buying dollars in the black market and pretty much keeping them safe under their proverbial mattresses.
People needed a safe way to convert their money into the safer dollars but needed also to stay anonymous for fear of government reprisal.
And that is where Zcash has come to the rescue. One of the biggest selling points of Zcash is its focus on privacy and anonymity.
The AirTM and Zcash Partnership
Zcash entered into a partnership with Mexican startup AirTM, which is a peer-to-peer exchange. AirTM was founded in 2015, and the platform is designed specifically to allow users in hyper-inflated economies – Venezuela, for example – store their value in traditionally safer currencies such as the US dollar.
Zcash offers Venezuelans the chance to convert their bolivars to US dollars anonymously, thereby keeping them safe from their corrupt and abusive government.
According to AirTM’s CEO, Ruben Galindo Steckel, they are giving Zcash access to people who have desperate need of this facility – the oppressed people of a country run by a corrupt regime.
Yet, AirTM is not an underground operation. The company is registered with the American Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Treasury Department and it also conducts KYCs (Know Your Customer) in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering law (AML).
AirTM has about 168,000 Venezuelan users who live in their home country, as well as another 40,000 Venezuelans who live in foreign lands and send money home to their families. Venezuelans make up almost 60% of AirTM’s entire business today. Which is why it made sense for Zcash to tie up with AirTM.
AirTM has also partnered with several NGOs in the country through its newly formed AirTM Foundation. The aim of the foundation is to provide for various humanitarian needs via donations in Zcash and other cryptocurrencies.
This venture also needs to ensure that neither company breaks US laws; President Trump recently placed sanctions against dealing with the government-funded cryptocurrency, Petro. According to a research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who specializes in Venezuelan policy, Michaela Frai, as long the companies steer clear of the Petro and ensure strict compliance with US regulations, AirTM and Zcash can continue to provide support to Venezuelans.