Sometimes it feels like we’re so busy with our first world problems like chasing higher profits, that we actually overlook what’s really important. The truth is that first and foremost, we must use all the wonderful technological achievements to help those in need. For an average western world citizen, it’s really hard to imagine the scale of the problem in developing countries. But the issues are not going to disappear just because you close your eyes on them.
However, without facts, we risk sounding overly dramatic. So let’s get to the bottom of the problem and explore the solutions that blockchain technology has to offer to the less protected of us.
Roots of the Problem
Africa is the second largest continent. Its population is young — actually, the world’s youngest — and consists of multiple ethnicities. It also contains 54 independent countries, most of which are unstable and extremely corrupt. Speaking of transparency and decentralization, shouldn’t we take care of them for these people first?
A lot of problems in modern-day Africa come from colonialism. Europeans came to the continent and attempted to establish order the way that they were used to, without taking into consideration one tiny little matter. In Africa, their approach simply couldn’t work. As a result, the continent now has to face serious political, economic, and social challenges.
Additionally, the whole infrastructure system is just not working out. For instance, banking is only available in big cities, when the majority of the African population lives in the countryside. The poverty forces people to leave their home countries and move abroad in a search of a stable income. But then another issue gets in the way. How do you transfer money to your unbanked relatives back in Africa? And even if you finally find a way, can you imagine the costs of international remittance? One may say they have to replace the people in charge for a start and things will start looking brighter. Now, how do you do that? How do you influence an election in an utterly corrupt country?
The African continent is just one example. Unfortunately, there are way too many third world countries all over the world that are struggling with similar issues.
Blockchain For the Greater Good
How come those progressive and altruistic blockchain enthusiasts are not all over the problem yet? Well, in fact, some of them are. However, there are quite a few obstacles that require immediate solutions.
To begin with, developing countries are not exactly famous for their super-speed internet connection, and having limited access to the internet singlehandedly bars technological progress. Also, the blockchain industry is still short of professionals, even with the highest salary offers on the market. Unfortunately, money is crucial and not too many of us would turn down a good offer in favor of a greater cause. And, finally, the infamous scaling problem is still on the agenda and it keeps causing serious blockchain limitations.
But we truly believe that for a strong, dedicated, and selfless community, the sky’s the limit. And there are quite a few devoted projects that only prove this point.
We mentioned the international remittance problem earlier, but we want to bring it up once again. The commission fees for money transfers in the western world are usually less than 10%. In developing countries, a 15% or even 25% fee is not uncommon. It’s quite bad math, isn’t it?
Projects like Xend are fighting this unfairness by providing fast and easy payments for Nigerian citizens. Regardless of your internet connection or whether or not you have a bank account. You don’t even need to own a smartphone to execute Xend-powered transactions, check your balance and verify payments. Just use the messaging option instead.
In the Philippines, cryptocurrency-wise, they have Rebit. The service allows you to transfer money via bitcoin payments. Rebit transfers your BTC into cash, and family members can collect it at pick-up points or get them directly in their bank account. With almost zero fees included. For the Philippines, this crypto payment option is definitely a blessing.
Another crypto project, BitPesa, also has a goal of delivering faster, cheaper, and easier money transfers to Africa. It cuts out the middleman, who is a huge money-draining layer on the continent, to save costs. Moreover, the forex and payment platform allows businesses to manage all sorts of payments to their distributors and suppliers, as well as salaries. And do it fast and cost-efficiently.
Banking the Unbanked
According to statistics, in 2017 99% of the Australian and Canadian population older than fifteen years old had a bank account. In Afghanistan, the number drops to a shocking 14%. Meanwhile, in South Sudan, it goes as low as 8%. As you might have guessed, the situation hasn’t changed much since then.
Not having access to such a basic human commodity as a bank account means (usually, but not always) no regular income, no securities of any kind, and no opportunities to get a loan of any type, be it business or personal necessity. Which, in turn, leads to a vicious circle – even if you have the desire to change anything, your hands are tied.
Why is that? The onboarding process in third world countries is a tricky business. Many people simply have no standard documents such as a birth certificate or ID to even start the process. And insurance is completely out of the question.
Here’s where blockchain technology can and should step forward.
Humaniq is one of the few platforms that takes care of the poverty issue. And they take it very seriously. They offer financial services to the unbanked and help small businesses broaden their outreach. The platform conducts their own KYC procedures so there is no need to collect extra documents.
Apart from zero-fee money transfers, the company strives to provide remote work to anyone. They believe that the blockchain can power a new, uncorrupt, and transparent kind of charity and give their stakeholders the opportunity to control where their funds end up. They also enable guarantor and direct lending to entrepreneurs.
Frankly speaking, we’ve only scratched the surface. We are sure that blockchain and cryptocurrency technology can definitely provide those basic financial services that third world citizens need so desperately. Apart from that, there are many other challenges that tech can help deal with, from fair elections and eliminating leechlike middlemen, to affordable education and fighting inflation.
What is more, it is possible that the development of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology on a larger scale could potentially start off exactly in developing countries. Once the financial problem is more or less under control, the people in these areas will finally have the opportunity to stand up and change things themselves.
Once again, we’re not saying that the blockchain will fight all the battles of the world, but it can pretty much change the way we look at our problems. The progress gives us the tools, and then it’s up to people how they decide to use them.