Crypto Growing in Latin America Adoption: New Economy Update

That’s one of the key issues being discussed at Bloomberg’s inaugural New Economy Gateway Latin America event being held in Panama City. 

After a day that saw hesitation on the speed of adaptation for cryptocurrencies, warnings of growing populism and the potential to leverage relationships with both the US and China, speakers Thursday will address health, food scarcity, clean energy, cities and biodiversity.

You can follow the agenda here and the event will be streamed on the terminal at LIVE GO and on the web.

Latin America is getting “large numbers” of investors entering the crypto space, said Brock Pierce, chairman of The Bitcoin Foundation and founder of Tether. 

“We are absolutely seeing large numbers of people in LatAm using this technology for things like remittances. The fundamentals are there.”

Still, algorithmic stable-coins are an ongoing experiment that still needs to be battle-tested to weather economic storms, he added, noting that he “still believes” in them even amid recent volatility.

“For the time being there’s a direct correlation between the old economy and the new economy,” he said. “That’s likely to continue to be the pattern.”

Though the US dollar is the reserve currency for all crypto transactions, investors shouldn’t put “too much confidence” in very new coins. Pierce also said there’s long term value in NFTs, though wouldn’t invest “heavily” in the space.

When it comes to preserving biodiversity, the private sector has to take the lead, said Joshua Tewksbury, the director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. 

They’ll have to take on the challenge of understanding the investment opportunity, and increasing the conversation on where to invest in environmental, social and governance, he said.

Danielle Wood, an assistant professor and director of the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, said she’s optimistic because she sees enthusiasm from the private sector to be a positive player on biodiversity, both due to client pressure and from companies’ own internal desires

Measuring the value of biodiversity can be challenging, more so even than the impact of climate change or carbon emissions. 

But when looking at the cost of maintaining biodiversity over replacing it, it’s going to be very expensive proposition to recover whatever is lost, Wood said.

As for balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability, the impact the planet has on growth is exceptional and often underestimated within local economies, Tewksbury said. 

If the impact on an ecosystem like the Amazon rainforest moves beyond an irreversible tipping point, it could result in a global impact that’s an existential threat, he added

Latin America is leading the recovery in passenger capacity, with demand beating 2019 levels and some top leisure destinations like Cancun and Punta Cana doing better than before the pandemic, said Pedro Heilbron, chief executive officer of Copa Holdings, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Caroline Hyde. 

The comeback of leisure travel is the “big surprise” on the heels of the pandemic, with corporate travel still about half of what it was before the virus hit in 2020.

The company is grappling with jet fuel prices at record levels, but still isn’t seeing a slowdown in demand because of high prices

“That’s the new challenge for the airline industry, but it’s also one we cannot do much about, except for trying to improve revenues and keep costs under control,” Heilbron said.

Chef Elena Reygadas, one of Latin America’s top restaurateurs, said she focuses on sourcing local and diverse ingredients both to preserve less known edible fruits and plants but also, in the current environment, to combat rising food inflation.

“If we conceive our menus and dishes with as much ingredients as possible we can keep our biodiversity alive,” Reygadas said. “And the more local we are, the more we can fight against the inflation that’s going on.”

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