5 investors discuss Latin America's symbiotic relationship with crypto

·2 min read

From Bitcoin's valuation getting pummeled to data breaches at Axie Infinity and layoffs at huge exchanges, crypto isn't exactly having its best moment. But in many countries in Latin America, where much of the population craves a better financial future, investors are still bullish about crypto’s transformative power.

To understand how Latin American startups are preparing to weather the crypto winter, we talked to five investors (TechCrunch+ subscription required) who have bet on companies that are going a step further than traditional finance. They shared thoughts on the market as a whole and also discussed how Latin America's woes are creating tailwinds for crypto.

For instance, volatility is less of a deterrent to crypto adoption in countries such as Argentina, where legal tender isn't exactly reliable. When its economy minister resigned on Twitter on July 2, everyone knew that the local currency would plummet against the dollar. But on a Saturday, there was little they could do to avoid the sting. Web3 investor Matías Nisenson found a solution: "Thanks to crypto, I was able to short the peso during the weekend!"

Nisenson says the situation taught him how "crypto was able to protect some people from their politicians."

This focus on solving real problems for the broader population is a common concern among entrepreneurs and investors in Latin America's crypto and DeFi space. But for it to work, startups first need to tackle UX challenges.

"We understand that we are still in the early days of crypto as a platform for financial inclusion," said Pato Jutard, co-founder of Newtopia VC. "Not only because the immature DeFi protocols have still to prove their robustness and security across a longer period of time, but also because the general user experience for crypto apps, specially for ramp up, are still too hard to use and understand."

Axie Infinity's onboarding wasn't exactly simple, for instance. The need for simpler UX is one of the reasons why investors are still hopeful about play-to-earn and similar models.

"There are a number of options, like exercise-to-earn (Stepn), learn-to-earn, etc. Lots of exciting possibilities for alternative sources of income while incentivizing desired behaviors," said Christine Chang of Tribal, a fintech company that recently launched a venture arm, Tribal Global.

Another source of optimism, Chang said, is that "LatAm is actually ahead of the curve in terms of women in crypto." Argentina-based investor and author Claire Diaz-Ortiz concurred, noting that "there’s something in the water when it comes to women in web3 down here."

Read the full survey for an inside peek into how crypto investors in LatAm think about the sector, why they view El Salvador's experiment with Bitcoin in a positive light and how to best approach them for pitches.