Bitcoin trading has reached an all-time high in Venezuela.
During the week of Jan. 11, crypto investors bought and sold 367 billion bolivars ($5.5 billion USD) of BTC on LocalBitcoins. This week’s volume is 1.4 times greater than that of the previous week, when investors traded 263 billion bolivars on the popular peer exchange.
Heightened demand has arguably caused BTC to trade at a premium. Mid-range sellers on LocalBitcoins currently sell BTC at 715 million bolivars—a price equivalent to $10,600 USD and $2,000 greater than standard market prices.
However, LocalBitcoins sellers generally trade BTC at a premium, so high prices are not limited to Venezuelan sellers.
Dash Is Thriving
The markets have some good news to offer regarding Dash, Venezuela’s preferred cryptocurrency.
Since Jan. 4, Dash’s price has risen from $45 to $77, representing a 67% increase in market value. In the same period, the price of Bitcoin rose from $7,330 to $8,490—displaying a much smaller price increase of 15.8%.
Many commentators have attributed Dash’s rising price to adoption within Venezuela. Recently, Burger King announced plans to accept Dash in forty of the country’s restaurants. Though this will have minimal impact outside of Venezuela, it seems that the high-profile announcement has encouraged speculative investment worldwide.
Internet Shutdown May Be Relevant
Venezuela’s rising trade volumes coincide with a nationwide internet outage. On Jan. 5, Venezuela’s state internet provider, ABA CANTV, restricted access to social media during a government leadership vote.
Though the provider briefly restored access, a broader shutdown began on Jan. 13, according to the censorship watchdog Netblocks.
Confirmed: Total internet outage with #Venezuela's state-run operator ABA CANTV affecting Bolívar, Monagas and parts of Anzoátegui from 8:00 a.m. local time; incident ongoing 📉 pic.twitter.com/ZJ9Fc1npg0
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) January 13, 2020
It is possible that this month’s internet outage has promoted Bitcoin investment. Venezuelan citizens have turned to cryptocurrency as a refuge against hyperinflation and political corruption in recent years. Alternatively, irregular internet access may simply have caused users to concentrate their trading activity on certain days.