“With a simple application downloaded, people without access to banking, credit and international finance can immediately become participants in an international economy, using an international currency (Bitcoin) that can be transmitted anywhere with minimal or no fees. They can be connected to a world of international finance that is completely peer- to-peer. At its center are simple mathematical rules that everyone agrees on and no one controls.“ Andreas Antonopoulos also says: “Bitcoin is money of the people.“ He also writes: “Of the 6 billion people on this planet (that are not privileged), 4 billion are significantly underbanked and an astonishing 2 billion people are completely unbanked.“
The data of the World Bank also supports this https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/sites/globalfindex/files/chapters/2017%20Findex%20full% 20report_chapter2.pdf).
According to the database, more than 20% of adults globally receive wages or government transfers in cash, and many people in developing countries pay bills in cash. There are also 5,2 billion unique mobile phone users according to the latest data from GSMA Intelligence. There is an average of 1.523 connections for every unique user. This demonstrates that the data being created by these users and platforms through smart devices is not being used to enable these unbanked customers financially. Bitcoin can fix this. But let’s start step by step.
There are already Bitcoin ATMs where you can easily purchase Bitcoin for cash. There are already over 50 countries that operate Bitcoin ATMs. This infrastructure could easily be built and made easily available to its residents by the government. In addition, one could integrate these ATMs into the banking system and so better control the transactions.
Another way to provide access to the Bitcoin currency would certainly be to build exchanges where people can buy Bitcoin digitally. This would also protect residents from scams and offer them a safer way to purchase Bitcoin. Again, the local banking network could be supported or independent startups could support the development. Coinbase, an exchange from the US, is already listed on NASDAQ and valued at around Us$50 billion. The business is highly profitable and promising for the future. Local banks can also benefit by joining the network themselves and operating their own nods. This would enable them to offer their users a new service. By using this global Bitcoin network, they could better compete internationally. Jack Mallers explains it this way: “A Mexican bank gave me a call, “We have 1.5 million users and we want to make free and instant remittance inbound from the US dollar. Here’s our Lightning node”. And so, that’s it; done. We don’t need to assess any credit, I don’t need to sign an MSA, I don’t need to get to know the founder. Now, we just scan QR codes to this bank; the bank’s going to receive Bitcoin in real time in less than a second at no cost, convert it to Mexican pesos and then dispatch it to the user’s bank.“
Bitcoin as another (global) currency gives consumers more choice.
There are two ways to store Bitcoin: Cold and Hot Wallets.
When Bitcoins are purchased, they must be stored securely. As this asset is digital, it is also relatively easy to secure it digitally. If the storage medium is connected to the Internet, it is called a hot wallet. This type of storage medium is slightly less secure, as it can be manipulated by hackers. If you handle it safely and use verified wallets from trustworthy companies, you can significantly reduce this danger. Therefore, Bitcoin can be stored on one’s cell phone if the user has Internet access. The combination of cell phone ownership and Internet is enough to participate in the international Bitcoin network.
Another way to store Bitcoins is to store them on cold wallets. Cold wallets are storage devices that are not connected to the Internet. Paper wallets or special “USB flash drives” are such examples.
So, with a cheap smartphone device (about 75$) and internet access, it is possible to enable the population to buy Bitcoins (digitally or at ATMs) and also to store them directly.
In 2017, according to World Bank, about 40% of all Georgians did not have a bank account. 2019 Georgia had 3.8 million inhabitants. So of those, about 1.4 million are without a bank account. With a smartphone, these people could immediately participate in international and domestic payments using Bitcoin. If the country gave away cell phones with a hot-wallet to people without a bank account, it would cost just 105 million USD. With 105 million USD, the entire population could be provided with the safest and hardest means of payment. These people could suddenly receive payments from anywhere and for a fraction of the cost of the traditional financial system. The interesting thing is that 6% of the Georgian population without a bank account say banks are too far away, 28% say banks are too expensive and 37% say they don’t have the necessary documents.
Andreas Antonopoulos puts it this way: “To be unbanked is to lack connectivity to the world, to lack the ability to participate in trade and commerce, to be unable to get a job and to find people who want your services. To be unbanked is to struggle, to build a more secure future for children. It is to be condemned to poverty. They don´t have access, documentation or the necessary literacy to fill in an application form.” This quote is confirmed by the shown statistics. All these problems do not exist in the Bitcoin network.
What about the access to the Internet in Georgia?
According to World Bank, about 70% of the population had access to the internet in 2019, so there is 70% of the population that uses internet, but only 60% of the population that has a bank account. Another thing to consider is that the Bitcoin network only requires mobile data volume (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS?locations=GE).
Let´s take a look on the following additional information (https://georgiantour.com/mobile/): In some unpopulated/less touristic places, instead of 4g coverage you may have just 2g anyway. In Mestia and in many other cities there is at least 3g if not 4g.
Examples of Covered Tourist Destinations:
Mestia: 4g, Ushguli: 3g, Oni: 4g, Shuapkho: No Coverage, Tobavarchkhili Lake: No Coverage, Kazbegi: 4g, Shatili: 3g, Roshka: 3g, Lagodekhi: 4g, Dartlo: 3g, Parsma: 2g, Ardoti: No Coverage, Ghebi: 3g, Chiatura: 4g
“Cellular phones are ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive. BlackBerry service is available. Internet access is available at hotels, restaurants and cafes, and parks in Tbilisi and some other towns. Subscriber Internet service is available through several local providers and is also moderately priced by regional standards. Fixed broadband internet and mobile internet are growing steadily. However, Internet access might be limited outside of Tbilisi and other major cities. “ — https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/georgia-business-travel
“Despite economic challenges, the telecom market is one of Georgia’s fastest growth sectors; LTE services cover the majority of citizens; regulators have strategy to introduce 5G; fixed-line telecommunications network has limited coverage outside Tbilisi; multiple mobile-cellular providers provide services to an increasing subscribership throughout the country; broadband subscribers steadily increasing; with investment in infrastructure, customers are moving from copper to fiber networks.” — https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/georgia/
A report from agenda.ge (https://agenda.ge/en/news/2018/2292) states:
“Internet access continued to grow during the reporting period, with approximately 60.49% of Georgians accessing the internet in 2017. According to a countrywide survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC), 42% of the population accessed the internet on a daily basis in 2017 and the most active internet users were located in the capital, reads the research. Only two per cent of people living in Georgia are unfamiliar with the internet altogether, reveals the research.“ Another survey conducted by the National Statistics Office of Georgia showed that 71.5% of households had access to the internet in 2017.
The report also says: “Mobile phones significantly outnumber landlines, and mobile reception is available throughout the country, including rural areas.“
Important requirements (smartphone penetration & internet access) for using the Bitcoin network are therefore fulfilled! Anyone with access to the Internet can use the Bitcoin network. No one is excluded there because of their origin, appearance or because of their poverty. If Bitcoin does what it has done in the last few years and continues to grow at a similar pace, it will succeed in the long run. It is difficult to estimate how many users there are already on the Bitcoin network. However, the data suggests that there are around 200,000,000 users (2020) (https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/how-many-bitcoin-users/).
Bitcoin is smart money for mobile devices. Bitcoin is a bank in cyberspace that allows billions of people to store their money on their smartphone devices that are connected to the internet. It is a very simple, financial account that everybody can use.
A series on bitcoin for nations: Part 3
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