Blockchain’s technology is often associated with being disruptive. Certainly these disruptive qualities are synonymous with notions related to transformative. In the case of cryptocurrencies, the popularity of Bitcoin conceptualized the ideas of Blockchain technology in the mainstream. This has allowed for the hypothesising of the future of cryptocurrency which is sure to have a transformative effect on the way we exchange, use and think of money. The collaborative, open source nature of cryptocurrency is often shadowed by the connotation of cryptocurrency proponents as profit-driven and market-fundamentalists. The disruptive qualities of Blockchain technology not only relate to the capacity it has to change the industries in which it’s applied, but may be conceived as disruptive in the way it can alter the way we perceive wealth and the inequalities associated with it.
As Blockchain technology continues to emerge, the conversations surrounding it continues to grow. The way cryptocurrency can be harnessed to empower marginalized communities is a conversation currently being had in socially progressive circles. This dialogue aims to outline ways that cryptocurrency can be used as a tool for financial inclusion and social security. In developing countries, access to financial institutions in the form of bank accounts is difficult, making the instance of online interactions/transactions even harder.
The prospect of cryptocurrency in these developing countries is fascinating in the sense that its technology would be transformative in its ability to empower people financially. In the absence of the financial infrastructure known to the developed world, hypothetically cryptocurrencies would transition more effortlessly. Following this narrative, cryptocurrency would function as a means to facilitate low-cost remittances to transfer money internationally. As opposed to being part of a formal financial institution, Blockchain technology means having a global bank account that is part of a decentralized global system.
While many believe that Blockchain technology is revolutionary in its ability to be completely immutable and transparent, these possibilities are amplified in the developing world where financial exclusion is a huge contributor to disenfranchisement. The World Bank estimates that the number of people who do not ‘bank’ (belong to a financial institution) to be 1.7 billion. That signifies an unmatched potential for Blockchain growth and adoption. One of the most appealing factors of Blockchain technology is its accessibility to absolutely anyone in the world. Those living in developing countries would just need to download a crypto wallet to start managing their assets digitally, minimizing cross-border fees.
There is no way of knowing how far Blockchain technology will go, and while the opportunities are endless, it definitely is not the end solution to the widespread financial marginalization that the world find itself in. It is an idea that has some viability however, as it allows us to imagine a future in which individuals are not tethered to financial institutions. Financial institutions are irrevocably tied to the political climate in which they exist and as such, those who live in countries with politically turbulent landscapes are more vulnerable to financial isolation. Blockchain technology allows us to imagine a non-hierarchical, self-organised system of collaborative enterprise.