Contxto – In Venezuela, blackouts and communication shortfalls are commonplace. However, for Venezuelan Randy Brito, faulty infrastructure shouldn’t be an obstacle when it comes to exchanging cryptocurrency.
That’s why, in early March of this year, Brito began an open-source initiative called Locha Mesh. Being a crypto enthusiast, his project enables bitcoin transactions to go through a private mesh network without requiring Wi-Fi connection in times of power outages.
While this startup is less than 10 months old, operations are certainly making headway. As of today, Locha Mesh currently has a seven-person team, two hardware prototypes, plus a successful test run under its belt. There are also plans for the future involving investors as well as donors to scale operations
Leveraging mesh networks for wireless connectivity, the initiative aims to facilitate small, quick payments through a scaling solution known as the Lightning Network. By the first quarter of 2020 is when the company hopes to start selling its devices.
Named Turpial and Harpy, Locha Mesh’s prototypes act as routers to bounce messages around a private radio network. Messages circulate until one outlet gets a Wi-Fi signal and can then connect to the Blockstream Satellite network.
This past March, Locha Mesh successfully carried out this connectivity for 22 hours-straight during a test run. Work is now underway to perfect its offer.
“We are currently finishing the second prototype and development kits,” said Brito.
When it comes to mesh networks, other startups such as Bridgefy from Mexico have developed similar solutions. Rather than wireless crypto exchanges, though, its services come in handy during times of natural disasters.
Energy crisis and crypto
Energy crises and communication issues persist in many emerging markets. This can complicate accessing non-traditional financial or monetary resources in times of turmoil.
“In Venezuela, cryptocurrency adoption can be very complicated,” explained Brito, “People can have trouble even downloading a wallet because of the lack of infrastructure.”
Like many startup founders can attest, though, problems can very well become opportunities that benefit many.
“Basically, we are providing an accessible solution for anyone who finds themselves without energy or internet access in need for a safe, decentralized and censorship-resistant way of communication,” said Brito.
In case you missed it, Brito’s words may sound familiar to what’s currently unfolding in Argentina.
Just last week, we explored how some Argentines are using crypto to remedy economic issues and maintain purchasing power. Now, with Locha Mesh in Venezuela, it’s clear that cryptocurrency offers viable alternatives in Latin America. This is particularly true in times of economic uncertainty and faulty infrastructure