Bitcoin adoption of Guatemalan merchants grows one BTC tattoo at a time

Bitcoin (BTC) use in Guatemala is on the up. The Latin American country that borders El Salvador boasts Guatemalan-grown Bitcoin companies such as Ibex and Osmo, several Bitcoin Beach-inspired projects including Bitcoin Lake, and now, free BTC tattoos.

A Bitcoin merchant adoption competition hosted by Osmo Wallet in 2022, a Guatemala-based Bitcoin company, led to the free ink promotion. Cointelegraph spoke to Piero Coen, the co-founder of Osmo Wallet, and Steven Marroquin, the owner of Soul’s Anchor, a tattoo parlor in Guatemala City.

Coen explained how it that the mission is to get more people to use Bitcoin:

“So we ran a competition amongst merchants to see who would process the most volume in Bitcoin sales in 2022. Turns out Soul’s Anchor Tattoo Shop in Guatemala City, who started accepting Bitcoin payments using Osmobusiness back in October, won the competition.”

Merchant adoption is nothing new in Guatemala. So they thought about how to make things more exciting. They decided that offering free Bitcoin tattoos to customers might be a Bitcoin-friendly marketing tactic. “It was a huge hit. All the slots filled up in hours!” He explained.

Guatemalan Bitcoin believers and Bitcoin tourists streamed into the store to ink their favorite Bitcoin meme, quote or art onto their skin. Steven Marroquin, Souls Anchor owner, explained, “It’s been around seven months since we officially accepted Bitcoin and have two to three customers per month.” It’s a small amount, but payments are on the rise, he reports:

“The first months we had only one customer, and even though it’s still a few percentages of our income, probably 1%, we are happy have started accepting it.”

Coen explains that “It’s still super early” for Bitcoin adoption in Guatemala, and “Most business owners are still unsure about accepting and holding onto Bitcoin because of the volatility.”

By allowing instant Bitcoin to fiat currency conversion at the payment merchant terminal, merchants can sidestep the volatility. Instant BTC to fiat conversion is a growing trend in the Bitcoin payments space, as companies such as Strike–headed up by Jack Mallers–and CoinCorner offer similar solutions. Bitcoin as a means of exchange is burgeoning and Coen is optimistic about its future:

“Bitcoin adoption in Guatemala City is on the rise, every day we see more and more people are getting into it, learning about it, and stacking up on Sats.”

Rikki, one-half of the Bitcoin Explorers couple who spent 45 days living off Bitcoin only in El Salvador, recently traveled around Guatemala, paying his way in Bitcoin. Rikki told Cointelegraph the level of “adoption of Bitcoin in Guatemala has really surprised us,” referring to himself and his partner Laura.

“Locals are curious, they want to learn about Bitcoin and see it as an important alternative to credit cards whose fees are very high in the country.”

Indeed, by accepting Bitcoin, business can save over 50% on transaction costs when compared to accepting credit card payments, “So the incentives are there,” Coen explained.

Related: As Bitcoin debuts in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala study CBDCs

Rikki added that “orange-pilling” efforts by Guatemalan-based companies, such as Ibex and Osmo, “are pushing to raise awareness of the technology.” The couple also visited the Bitcoin Lake, a Bitcoin-beach-style community project, where a Guatemalan mayor is mining Bitcoin in his office, before getting inked themselves as part of the promotion.

“We found the tattoo idea very cute. It is a company that wants to reward its shopkeeper who has received the most Bitcoin transactions by promoting its business.”

Bitcoin and crypto tattoos are increasingly common, as crypto advocates choose to brand themselves with their coin of choice. However, crypto tattoos can sometimes go very, very wrong.

Take Mike Novogratz, the Galaxy Digital founder, as an example. His Terra (LUNA) tattoo is a constant reminder that investing requires humility. The LUNA token crashed by over 99% in price in 2021. Fortunately, the Bitcoin tattoos are safe, for now, thanks to a January price pump. 

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