On the Venezuelan bitcoin exchange SurBitcoin, which is based in Valencia, Carabobo, it is trading bitcoin well below market value; at approximately 22% less than other bitcoin markets around the world. The huge difference in price is causing many to speculate why this is happening.
On the markets page on SurBitcoin, trades are currently happening at the price of $4920 VEF (bolivars), which converts to $494 USD (dollars). For the rest of the world, bitcoin is trading at around $640 USD (see USD price comparison chart). This is a difference of 22% below the market value for all of bitcoin.
According to diariobitcoin.com, they speculate that the reasons for the difference in exchange rates is because of the high cost of living in Venezuela, and for many Venezuelans they desperately need bolivars in order to pay for basic items, so they are forced to sell their bitcoin at any price they can get. People aren’t willing to pay global premium prices for bitcoin because at this time, bolivars are more in demand due to the devolving economic situation in Venezuela, which are causing the major issues for everyone in the country.
To make matters more complicated, SurBitcoin posted a message on Facebook saying they are having problems with the integration of their API with Banesco, a bank based in Venezuela. This integration appears to be fueling withdrawal issues on the exchange, where many users on their Facebook page are complaining about not being able to withdraw their funds.
Withdrawals has been an ongoing issue with SurBitcoin, going back a few months in April where we reported user complaints were mounting that customers have not been able to withdraw their funds on the exchange, when the problems originally started in March.
From the complaints earlier this year, it was thought at the time due to the economic collapse in the country that it could be causing the issues, or some even stated that SurBitcoin was under government investigation for illegal activities.
It doesn’t appear that the customer withdrawal issues have been resolved since March, which suggests that there is something more telling to this story. There is a high demand of users who are trying to withdraw funds from the exchange possibly due to the economic demand for bolivars, however these people are not able to withdraw funds with no real reason as to why over the past several months; with a poor excuse about an API integration problem this week.
Unfortunately, many in the bitcoin community have seen these types of issues in the past, with exchanges such as Mt. Gox and Cryptsy where typically when you have this many people complaining about not being able to withdraw funds, it means there is a much bigger issue at hand.
Update: Hours after our article was published SurBitcoin announced on Facebook that it has completely halted fiat operations, claiming continued issues with Banesco bank. Surbitcoin says they will place sell orders at market price, so users can buy the bitcoins and sell them on LocalBitcoins.