The story is on decodeit.org and it is nationwide but how it works on the lake is what we care about. The Guatemalan government has told the banks not to accept US currency other than $50 and $100 bills. This makes no sense to me. Here are a few reasons:
- Unless it has changed in the last month, the Cajero (ATM) at BAC in Panajachel gives you a choice of Quetzales or US$ — US$20.
- The official currency of El Salvador is the US$. Lots of people travel between El Salvador and Guatemala daily. Most are not going to have lots of money.
- As the owner of a Bed and Breakfast, customers paying cash who don’t live in Guatemala almost always pay in US$. Even if they were paying with a US$50 bill, that would mean I need to give them $10 change for our $40 room. What do they do with the US$10 bill?
So far, coyotes and some businesses continue to accept the smaller US bills but at reduced exchange rates. (If I go to the bank with a US$100 bill, I will get Q760 but a coyote will give me somewhere between Q700 and Q730.) That’s today, what will be the long-term consequences?
For people traveling to Guatemala, your best “preparation” is to either bring US$100 bills which you can exchange in the banks (up to $2000 a month) or use your debit card to get Quetzales in a cajero. So far, the cajero exchange rates seem to be good but not that some cajeros are not accepting cards from outside Guatemala.
To me, this seems like one more reason Bitcoin is the future.