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EL ESPECTADOR

The Small Colombian Town That Stopped Using Cash

Concepcion is the first place in Colombia where the vast majority of transactions involve electronic banking via mobile phones, staying well ahead of even northern Europe.

A quiet street in Concepcion
A quiet street in Concepcion
Sergio David González

CONCEPCION — Concepción in northern Colombia has become the country's first town to practically say goodbye to bank notes, instead embracing online payments for even the most ordinary transaction. When the town's 4,500 residents make purchases, they pay using their mobile phones. They are local pioneers of an expanding global trend, and apparently ahead of even countries such as Denmark, which is considering banning cash transactions in some shops and businesses starting next year.

Concepción calls itself a "welcoming land where nobody is an outsider," and that seems especially true when you can visit without any cash. It all started as part of a pilot program intended to bring "ordinary folk" and small businesses into the official economy and banking system. The initiative is backed and financed by the public sector Banco del Comercio Exterior, banking syndicate Asobancaria and the private bank Davivienda.

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Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axios Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

CARACAS —The dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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