A different perspective on Bitcoin

By Larissa Fernand |  23-05-21 | 
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About the Author
Larissa Fernand is Senior Editor at Morningstar.in. Follow her on Twitter @larissafernand

There remains a fierce debate over whether Bitcoin is a legitimate asset with any real purpose or value. Its volatility makes many uneasy. Countries can even ban it.

In What is bitcoin?, I wrote about how bitcoin is not universally accepted as a unit of account and a means of payment.

Bernard Parah, the chief executive at Bitnob, gives a different perspective. Here is his narration from Nigeria.

Imagine you live in Nigeria. You work honestly, you work very hard, and you earn an income.

You cannot spend more than $100 on international sites using your card. You cannot spend your OWN money. You can't buy that PS5 if you wanted to because of monetary controls. Bitcoin fixes this.

Now are fortunate to get a job abroad. You earn well and want to send money home to your family. To do that, you have to pay ridiculous fees. If it's an emergency, those funds might not get there on time. Bitcoin fixes this.

However frugal a lifestyle you lead, and however much you manage to save, it is never enough. Why?

Inflation exists everywhere. But widespread and rampant inflation has always been a problem for the Nigerian economy. The inflation rate in Nigeria soared more than 70% in 1995. Since then, inflation has averaged around 12%. Reuters reported that Nigeria's annual inflation climbed to a more than four-year high in March, to 18.17%.

The currency loses more than 25% of its value against the USD dollar in a year.

You work harder, but only get poorer. Bitcoin fixes this.

As a younger digital native, you do assignments or remote gigs for clients in other countries. But payment is a problem when you do not have a PayPal account. Bitcoin fixes this.

Your bank account could get blocked because you took part in or donated to a protest. If they own the money, they own you. Bitcoin fixes this.

Not to mention that you have to pay charges just for keeping your money in the bank. Bitcoin doesn't charge account maintenance fees.

Unemployment is high in Nigeria. The Conversation reported that the unemployment rate is 33.3% and the country’s underemployment rate – people who work less than 20 hours a week – is 22.8%. Imagine being in that situation. You can resort to selling bitcoin on WhatsApp just to fend for yourself, just to earn a living.

Bitcoin allows us to build a future for where one might never need to open a bank account in order to participate in commerce with anyone around the world. The internet has changed our lives, mostly for the better. Now we have money that works on the internet and allows us to be global citizens. While you see magic internet money, what we see is a shot at freedom and a shot at prosperity.

Do Read:

  • In Check your financial privilege, the author gives a different perspective. The financial experts, reporters and policymakers in the West have continuously pounded the narrative that Bitcoin is risky, dangerous, bad for humans and bad for the planet. And their narrative is blinded by their financial privilege.

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