Sending Money Home, Instantly – No Wonder Expats and Travelers Embraced Crypto
To this day, the only real, proven and practiced use case for blockchain is the transfer of value through cryptocurrencies. While companies have raised billions of promising innovations in supply chain management, healthcare etc. the breakthrough application for blockchain’s distributed database is its use as a currency system.
This is the only use case where blockchain is a massive improvement on the old system. It is the only use case where blockchain is meeting a need that already existed. And it is the only use case where blockchain is actually being actively utilized.
While I had have held small amounts of bitcoin since 2012, I never really took blockchain and cryptocurrencies seriously or looked at blockchain as an industry I wanted to craft a career in until I started working in a country which is notorious for its capital controls. Getting money home that was mine, that I had worked for, that I had given up a familiar and comfortable city for, became a huge ordeal. I quickly realized that I could use good old Bitcoin and the dependable OTC network to reduce the process from one of the forms and delays over a whole month to a one-day, cheap transaction.
I am not the only one in this boat. Labor has never been this geographically mobile and people have never been more willing to leave their homes and friends behind to pursue their professional and personal goals. In many cases, it is now easier for people to move themselves between countries than their capital.
This explosion of a global workforce has meant that the current global regulatory infrastructure around remittances is ill-equipped to handle all the different needs and requirements of émigrés and expatriates.
The World Bank estimates that remittances will amount to some $616 billion in 2018 and $466 billion of that will be too low and medium income countries. Government regulations, while often created to hamper bad actors, are by definition a way to shift power to a central authority.
The entire point of cryptocurrencies was to decentralize this power structure. The idea was to empower everyone in the network and to create a truly democratic system, expediting capital movement to places where it is needed the most. Funding for innovation was liberated. Now people can buy and sell goods and services across the world with complete freedom in payments and receipts. Regulations, apart from creating a power imbalance, also add massive costs to transfers. With regulations, the costs of credit checks, identity checks and audits get pushed onto the customer. While I understand the need to combat money laundering, I usually always find myself on the freedom side of the freedom versus security debate. I often find that the people who are most adamant about regulations being necessary to bring crypto to the mainstream have ulterior motives.
Either they have fervent faith that regulations will somehow bring a massive windfall to their personal crypto portfolios or have reasoned that their company will have an easier time getting funded through a regulated ICO. Personally, I don’t believe that regulations will have a major effect in such cases. In my opinion, the biggest hurdle to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies is lack of knowledge and consumer perception. While regulations can bring in the class of investor that doesn’t trust the underlying fundamentals of cryptocurrencies, the whole point of creating these currencies was to redistribute power.
This innovation was always supposed to change the world and give us all the power to carve our own financial rules. It still can. We just need to stop talking about others regulating us and start to create and follow these rules ourselves. We need to not abandon the original ideals just because we had a few years of scams and betrayals – but rather commit to the vision and be excited about the future.