CARACAS – The US greenback remains as the No. 1 option for Venezuelan consumers to pay for goods and services inside their own country due to the lack of bolivars in cash, according to a new study conducted by local economist Asdrúbal Oliveros and his consulting firm Ecoanalítica.
“The dollar continues to be the most widely used currency, which talks about fully replacing the bolivar in Venezuela,” Oliveros said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
“In the absence of bolivars, people deal better with another currency that is so much easier to get these days. It’s easier to get dollars than bolivars in Venezuela, except for small denomination banknotes. This is because dollarization is not formal and there is no optimal amount of banknotes to make transactions. Those dollars come from what people and businesses are placing on the street. This doesn’t allow giving exact change, because business owners depend on what they give back to consumers every day,” he pointed out.
The study showed that 57% of payments in establishments across Caracas, the capital, are made in dollars, while 40% are in bolivars and the rest in euros and/or other foreign currencies. Also in Caracas, about 5,000 transactions were carried out in 59 establishments including retailers selling home appliances (98%), clothing and shoes (93%), vehicle spare parts (93%) and food and personal care products (51.5%), with the latter recording the largest number of transactions.
Likewise, 51% of dollar transactions were made in cash, down from 80% registered in another study conducted by Ecoanalítica in February of this year; 30.6% through Zelle and other similar payment mechanisms on the web; 17% through international cards; and 1% through wire transfers.
“It is also important to highlight that more than 60% of transactions in Caracas were carried out using a currency different from bolivars. This represents a 1% increase from February, which means is not significant,” Oliveros was quoted as saying.
“About $2.5 billion are circulating in Venezuela, according to a study conducted last year. Although this amount may be underrated as it could be higher due to the money collected from the fuel sold at international prices,” he added.