TL;DR – People here mostly use electronic payments, but that doesn't protect the local currency against debasement whenever America turns on money printers or slaps Russia with sanctions.

I've been in Kazakhstan for about a month now. If you check the timeline of the exchange rate fluctuation of the Kazakh Tenge (KZT) to the USD, then you see a trend: when sanctions hit Russia -Kazakhstan's largest trading partner- both the rouble and the KZT (as well as some other central Asian / former USSR currencies) dropped in value against the dollar.

Speaking to some people here who have family living abroad, if a friend or family member sends an international remittance to Kazakhstan, they would rather let the money sit in their bank account in USD as opposed to KZT because there is at least some volatility.

For the first month, I tried using my American debit card to withdraw money from ATMs locally and use it to pay for everything I need everywhere. I've been in Asia for 5 years and never had any problems with using cash before, but it seems when you pay in cash at some places, there is difficulty in getting you the exact change that you are due. For some perspective, you should try checking out this wikipedia page on KZT notes and coins. Imagine trying to have enough of these for 10 people at a cash register at a small business. It's not enough.

Eventually, I ended up selling some crypto and holding it in a local Kaspi bank account, and just using the Kaspi app to pay for everything. But this doesn't solve the issue of currency debasement.

I haven't been to the countryside of Kazakhstan yet, so I can't say how things work there. I live in Almaty, one of the trade capitals of KZ, and I've found spots in the city where I have 4bars of internet reception, but I can't send or receive data. I imagine If something costs, for example, 479 Tenge in a city with working internet, people would just kick the price up to 480 to make it more convenient to pay for in a place without internet.

I remember hearing about projects where people use minted physical notes or coins to represent an amount of bitcoin that someone holds. Does anyone know anything about that project?

submitted by /u/AL_throwaway_123
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Source and link to Reddit topic: American in Kazakhstan. Lightning is the way. Context inside. Describing currency debasement, and the trouble with dealing with cash as opposed to electronic payments.