What the Heck Is the Poverty Industry and How Can a Country Coin Challenge It?
“Pecunia non Olet” … But Sometimes it Tastes Weird
Have you ever heard anyone in the financial world discuss the “poverty industry”?
Shockingly, this industry includes a wide variety of consumers from across the world including the “working poor” in developed nations all the way to the unbanked members of society in emerging markets.
The fact that a term like the “poverty industry” even exists today should be a trigger for us to unleash our ethical responsibility and motivate us to create a world with no need for such a phrase. Fortunately, help is already on its way for the unbanked, and it’s coming from an unexpected ally — the cryptocurrency movement.
The idea of supporting the unbanked—or rather, the market to make a profit with the unbanked—is not new, not even for the cryptocurrency world. In fact, Bancor does projects in Kenya and Binance in Uganda.
However, things can be done in a more holistic way, like a role-model scenario that every government globally can apply.
Imagine various governments in Southeast Asia, Latin America, or Africa establishing a government-supported and limited native coin, a “country coin.”
Bitcoin may be illegal in some areas as a means of payment, but not a Viet-Coin, Mexi-coin, or an Afri-Coin.
There’s No Pawn Shop in the Jungle
While you may live in a developed nation where you can finish a session of Fortnite or World of Warcraft (WoW), order a pizza, and then head to your local cafe around the corner for a latte, that’s not the case for many people in the world.
It’s a luxury not available everywhere.
For those living in developing countries and emerging markets, there’s an increasing tendency for people to relocate to capital cities in search of employment.
The reason is simple: there isn’t enough work in rural areas and for the limited work that is available—if any—it tends to be low-paying.
By leaving their friends and family behind, the soon-to-be workforce strives to better their situation in more urban areas. Many are equipped with nothing more than mere hope and an iron will, willing to take any work that comes their way. In the case that they do find a job, they’re eager to support their families located far away by sending money.
But what’s the best solution to do that?
Of course, there are “alternative” financial services available for this class in the economy, but they tend to be services like payday loan centers, pawn shops, dubious credit card companies, and loan sharks.
What these people need is a secure and safe way to confidently handle a transaction, yet that’s not always available in many cases.
From 0 to 60 in 7 Years
Before we can talk about the details of the solution, and for us to clearly see the issue, we need to first understand the extent of its urgency. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the numbers:
India is home to 21% of the world’s unbanked population, and China is home to about 12%. The proportion of people without bank accounts worldwide decreased from 49% to 38% from 2011 to 2014, still leaving roughly 3.5 billion behind. As for today’s numbers in 2018, we’re still at a rate of slightly over 30%.
While the progress is obvious, it’s also slow.
Some further estimations from researchers regarding the percentage of unbanked people vs a given country’s population:
- Vietnam: 70%
- Latin America and the Caribbean: 70%
- United Arab Emirates: 60% (Not including Dubai, mostly well-banked expats living there)
- Indonesia: 50%
- USA: 6.5%
The United States was added to the list just to show that even well-developed nations, you’ll still find an unbanked population, though it’s often for different reasons.
One thing is certain: as soon as investors understand that an investment in an emerging country is backed by the local government, they’re likely to be kicking in the door to participate. Now let’s looks at what a solution could look like.
Adventures in Randomland
Consider the following example of a possible setup.
“Randomland” stands for every emerging country outside of the well-developed world. The government decides to issue its own “Random-Coin.”
R-Coin’s value is 1.00 Random dollar (the fiat currency the country was using) and is limited to 100 billion coins total. 70% remain under official’s surveillance so the government can work against inflation, should it occur, with the remaining 30% used to support financial transactions for the unbanked via applications on smartphones, tablets, or any smart mobile devices.
With this solution, citizens of Randomland—even though they remain unbanked—are still able to participate in financial transactions. Government support also isn’t necessarily financial since a major part of its involvement is mainly for media and promotional purposes.
Does it End There? (Hint: No!)
We don’t have to stop there, either. What do the people of Randomland really need? Well, let’s ask them! By installing a forum where people can ask questions and make suggestions about what other services they may need from blockchain technology, governments will be able to be more in touch with their citizens.
Using transaction services as a platform, a possible setup for further services could include some of the following:
- The government can lay out the framework of the coin and its legal surveillance
- Collaboration with local ventures, such as sending out bargain offers or coupons
- Collaboration with education efforts, especially when the next university is 500km away
- Collaboration with cryptocurrency wallet providers for additional security
- Getting local mobile providers on board to negotiate lower fees for Country-coin users
- The government must agree to the procedure (and continue to stick to it after elections)
- It’s against everything Satoshi Nakamoto was fighting for
However, we need to decide for ourselves what we value higher: an ideology or the support for millions of people across the global community. Keep in mind, this isn’t intended for the original cryptocurrency community, but rather to aid people in developing nations.
For national governments, the production, coding, and setup are almost negligibly small.
The main challenge is establishing trust between the issuing authority (i.e. the government) and the citizens using the coins.
In addition to the trust, the issuing authority will likely need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort marketing the new campaign, though not marketing in the traditional sense. Governments need teams who specialize in driving adoption.
How does a team drive adoption? By building trust between citizens and government and believing in the viability of the project.
A Lesson in Trust
Building trust is an exhausting task, it requires years to build up, but only seconds to come crumbling down and get destroyed. What fits in personal relationships also fits in economic ones, especially when it comes to monetary politics. A quick look back in history…
Trust in the country’s economy, its leaders, its people, and in the American Dream — that’s what left of the US dollar after the Gold Standard ended in 1971 — A simple fiat currency without intrinsic value, backed by nothing other than a national concept of value and convertibility in the open markets.
On what filigree pillars do we keep this trust alive and well today? Think about it for a moment.
The value in cryptocurrencies is in trust, just like with the US dollar and other major fiat currencies!
The accusations that Bitcoin and altcoins are a “bubble” are simply unsubstantiated.
A Country-Coin could be used in many ways and be the starting point for additional e-services for the country’s population. The coin can be tailored to any country and its peoples’ specific needs. For the governments, the Country-Coin could be a prestigious project, a signal to the world, acting as a role model for future developments. What remains is that as with all world-changing events, someone has to start the movement, lest all the world (just as the disbarred people) will remain in silence.
There are a few more questions that arise from the topic of the “unbanked” in the demographic environment of various societies, challengings the angles of perception.
- Why is there even a conception of “poor” or “insufficient” associated with someone when they have no bank account?
- Why do people need to be “banked”?
- Who says that it’s a basic human need?
- Ask Abraham Maslow to put “banking” in his hierarchy of needs. I highly doubt it’ll be put beside food, water, and shelter!
- If one transforms the idea of a Country-Coin into action, who would need a bank anymore? How damped would a government’s motivation be to use such a system when they have an influential omnipotent central bank?