Just a few months ago, I sat on a panel at the Blockchain New York Conference at PwC. As a panel, we discussed, “The Promise of “The Internet of Money” with a particular angle on whether or not Bitcoin is a distraction, or has merit moving forward. How could Bitcoin be a distraction?
Bitcoin is Still Very Relevant
Bitcoin is the blockchain’s killer application. As banks and larger financial institutions catch onto “the blockchain”, let’s not forget the application that made the blockchain become more of a household name.
For those who caught onto the Bitcoin movement in the earlier days, Bitcoin was a greater topic of conversation than its platform, the blockchain. It’s easy to run after the next flashy concept, but Bitcoin as a currency is just taking off in many regions of the world. For those naysayers, the bitcoin price is on an incline.
Application With a Global Solution
For some, paying in bitcoin is liberating. Apple and Venmo can only go so far to provide consumers with security and reach individuals around the globe. Certainly, some might argue that there are not enough on and off ramps in all parts of the world to the digital currency, but that certainly does not mean that there is no potential for Bitcoin to become mainstream.
If we remove our U.S., Canadian and European lenses, the picture of financial stability is entirely different in most parts of the world. In countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Greece, and India, bitcoin, as a currency, presents a needed solution to basic payment woes. Justthis past July, Uber drivers in Argentina founded a needed solution through Xapo’s bitcoin debit card. The Argentinian government stepped in to stifle Uber’s business by closing off access to credit card services, yet Uber has successfully continued operating thanks to bitcoin. What about Argentina’s neighbor, Venezuela? With the country in a sharp economic downturn andthousands facing starvation, people are desperately looking for an alternative.
What about the picturesque country of Greece? The scenery certainly does not match the financial turmoil within, frequently characterized by Greece’s government seizing citizen bank accounts with often ulterior motives in paying off the national debt.
In India, home to one-fifth of the global unbanked population, mobile wallet use is on the rise, and Bitcoin is a solution for individuals to opt into the international economy with limited capital. With the United States less than two weeks away from the presidential election, people inside and outside of the country are taking a close look at Bitcoin as an investment and mechanism for payment.
Bitcoin is an Equalizer
Imagine being barred from having a bank account due to your gender or race? In countries like Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving, Bitcoin serves as a gateway to financial freedom. What about the vast wealth discrepancies around the world? There is no minimum cash requirement to opt in when purchasing bitcoin. In most countries, just to secure a bank account, you need a sizable amount of capital to do so. With bitcoin, anyone can opt in with just a few cents.
This past May, BTCC CEO and Bitcoin Foundation Board Member, Bobby Lee, gave a compelling talk on “Why Bitcoin Makes Sense,” at Stanford Technology Ventures Program. Lee emphasized that Bitcoin makes sense for everyone around the world.
Now before claiming that Bitcoin is just a distraction or no longer relevant, what alternative is there that is global, decentralized, inclusive, and providing financial opportunity for the financially marginalized? The Bitcoin killer application continues to be a solid plan B, and I believe soon will be plan A for many.
What are your thoughts? Does Bitcoin still have merit? Is Bitcoin just a distraction from the blockchain? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Flickr, Public Domain.