According to 2020 World Bank data, remittances make up 14.7% of Guatemala’s GDP. Inca Digital through natural language processing named entity analysis sought to ascertain the usage of traditional vs crypto services to deliver these remittances.
Initial analysis of popular social media platforms and application data indicates the majority of Guatemalan communities still prefer to utilize traditional money services for remittances and money transfers. For instance, local traditional banks and their corresponding digital apps (G&T, BI, BAM, Banrural) remain the most popular methods to transfer money.
Additionally, Guatemala’s crypto adoption appears to lag other high remittance nations and consequently, local crypto services remain sparse. Abra app, IBEX, and other popular cryptocurrency exchanges are used in combination with local bank deposits and mainly as cash-out channels. Ordinary users rely more on transfers with specific banks along with Paypal-like wiring services. However, person-to-person crypto-to-fiat exchanges still take place in community chats and private rooms.
To build an understanding of the environment, Inca Digital’s Investigation Team collected data from different social media platforms for keyword mentions of remittance companies (crypto or non-crypto) and identified highly used remittances-related words (Spanish and English). After data collection, the team assembled the following charts to provide insights into the adoption and discussion of services across various social media platforms and further analyzed the usage of stablecoins versus more volatile assets.
As seen in the graph below, non-crypto related money transfer services still account for the top discussions on Twitter; however, crypto related money transfers began to emerge more significantly beginning in 2020.
The mentions of crypto related companies has increased in 2021. Leaders among Guatemala-based transfer services are Bitcoinera GT and IBEX Mercado, which has a large social media presence within the local community.
Within these remittance related rooms, Bitcoin remains the most popular coin of discussion; however, stablecoins are becoming increasingly mentioned in 2021.
Most activity on Reddit forums relates to coin promotions and coin speculation. Therefore, no crypto related services emerged as a popular choice through this particular named entity analysis.
Following suit, discussions related to stablecoins regarding remittances were relatively low for the areas of interest.
Telegram has the largest amount of crypto related named entity mentions of the social media sites analyzed. These mentions ebb and flow beginning in May 2019.
Additionally, compared to other social media platforms, stablecoins are also most often mentioned on Telegram. Below is a chart showing a number of stablecoins mentions over time. The following chart outlines these mentions by stablecoins, with USDT appearing to be the most popular.
Laslty, Inca Digital’s Investigation team analyzed the application review data for cryptocurrency, bank and transfer services from the Guatemalan App Stores. As indicated by more review counts, Crypto related applications are steadily growing within this market. The largest share of reviews for crypto applications is Abra.
Deeper Discussion Analysis
Through deeper local community discussion analysis, Inca Digital was able to define a number of payment mechanisms involving cryptocurrency, to include stablecoins, most liked by users.
The majority of users mostly link to their local bank accounts (Banco Industrial, Banrural) for on and off-boarding of digital assets. More popular crypto applications for remittances include: Abra in collaboration with inBestGo, Compradinero.com, IBEX, CoInca Digitalex, Guabits, BitMinutes.
Another way to use crypto in Guatemala is through person-to-person transfers. Notably, there are chats where users are invited to buy and sell crypto through person-to-person transactions. Additionally, selling less volatile USDT or USDC stablecoins, instead of other cryptocurrency, is gaining in popularity. For this purpose, community members highly recommend Binance’s P2P solution. However, some users still prefer direct bank transfers.
Analyst Note: Common cryptocurrency exchanges (Binance, Coinmama, Kraken, Huobi) are not listed throughout the report due to targeting specific remittance-related services, however, they are also in Guatemala’s app store’s trending charts, as well as community discussions for local cryptocurrency use.