We just wrapped up Bitcoin Agents Venezuela (BAV), an experimental project to onboard 10,000 new Bitcoin Cash (BCH) users in Venezuela. The project ran for 4 months from 1 May to 31 August 2021. We onboarded 1,191 users, about 12% of the goal, with 35 onboarders in 20 Venezuelan cities for an estimated spend of USD$3,000 in BCH.

Utility is what Bitcoin Cash is about and the developing world is the best place for BCH utility to gain a foothold. This is because the financial systems in the developing world actively exclude billions of working people. To bootstrap a BCH economy, we need merchants and we need consumers. We need inflows most of all.

Given the failure of our business plan to be funded, we decided to try and get some BCH consumers who could earn Bitcoin Cash in any number of existing, albeit small-scale, ways, which they could then spend at the hundreds of BCH merchants in Venezuela that we have onboarded.

Cities

We successfully onboarded new BCH users in these 20 Venezuelan cities during the BAV program.

  • Acarigua
  • Aragua
  • Barlovento
  • Caracas
  • Ciudad Bolivar
  • Coro
  • Cumaná
  • Guanare
  • Guanarito
  • La Guaira
  • Maracaibo
  • Maracay
  • Maturín
  • Porlamar
  • Puerto Ordaz
  • Punto Fijo
  • San Cristóbal
  • San Juan de los Morros 
  • Valencia
  • Villa de Cura 

Photo Gallery

A selection of photos of some of the people we onboarded to Bitcoin Cash recently. To get more photos of our onboarding efforts, visit our transparency portal at: https://stats.panmoni.com/. They are all there.

Lessons Learned

  1. We opted for an events-based strategy to onboard new users but we discovered that most of our onboarders did not want to run events.
  2. We attract new onboarders mostly via word of mouth and in-person events, but in-person events can be expensive and difficult during Covid lockdowns.
  3. We did not have enough training materials for the onboarders to self-train themselves. We fixed this with live trainings and lots of support.
  4. Education of the onboarders as to how to properly present Bitcoin Cash needs work.
  5. Our onboarding system did not include error-prevention in the onboarding forms and this generated some minor problems for our verification procedures. We are working with Modenero Corp’s Shomari Prince to resolve this.
  6. Internet access is an ongoing fundamental challenge. We solved this late in the project by buying mobile routers for onboarders to use.
  7. We only did post-onboarding education via email. If we repeat the experiment, we would do it via other methods as well, such as social media, WhatsApp, SMS, etc.
  8. We need to have post-onboarding surveys so we can immediately generate feedback from newly-onboarded users.
  9. We initially planned to buy some billboard space to provide more points of awareness for our efforts but decided to spend it on influencers instead. We did not do enough influencer marketing to really make a dent, but we know it raised our follower count on Instagram and resulted in additional attendance at many events.
  10. We achieved a 20% open rate on the post-onboarding email sequence, which we need to improve by testing more subject lines and developing more value we can offer.

Gauging success is very challenging since we can not measure transactions that result from our work. Even if we could, that metric is so one-dimensional as to be almost useless. The challenge is so much deeper than just counting transactions.

Newly-onboarded users are universally impressed with the lack of KYC for the Bitcoin.com wallet and that transactions are instant and work everywhere. However, given that there are almost no inflows, very few ways to earn BCH and almost no working ways to buy BCH, the potential of Bitcoin Cash remains unrealized.

Next Steps

The greatest opportunity to kickstart BCH adoption in the developing world remains the remittances industry. See our business plan for full details.

I don’t know if we will repeat this experiment or not, but if we do, we will need to spend a considerably larger sum of money (at least 10 times more) and have these elements in place:

  • full self-serve education for users, merchants & onboarders
  • a local liquidity solution (i.e., a working local.bitcoin.com)
  • more ways to earn BCH (e.g., an active freelance platform with lots of jobs)
  • a media team that can effectively do content marketing, PPC marketing, SMS marketing, etc.
  • more influencer marketing
  • billboards and radio

Venezuela remains an attractive target for BCH adoption for a number of reasons including: (1) dramatic failure of the local fiat currency (2) the very large diaspora (3) the tremendous opportunities for new growth once the political situation changes. Venezuela remains more attractive than El Salvador because people in Venezuela recognize the value of cryptocurrencies voluntarily.

We maintain full data on the onboarded people, including contact information, and will continue to educate and market to them.

We are working on a documentary about BAV. We have a large amount of video footage.

We are working on a commemorative physical BAV photo book with never-before-seen professional photos that we will offer for sale.

Thank You

Thanks to those who have supported us, in particular those few who stepped forward to offer support for our 1M project (which we canceled due to lack of BCH ecosystem support), including: David Shares, Roger Ver, Josh Ellithorpe, Shomari Prince, BCH.games & Melis wallet.

Thanks to the Panmoni Venezuela team, the 35 onboarders and in particular Jose Araujo, Olga Coché and Jaifred Pastran.