This is an opinion editorial by Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful and cofounder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
Global wealth inequality is growing around the world. With inflation, conflict and the pandemic forcing many into extreme poverty, the top 1% are accumulating more power than ever before – capturing nearly 20 times more global wealth than the bottom 50%. And the rise of inflation is adding more fuel to the fire, with U.S. numbers rising to 9.1%. While we are all feeling its effects, many say lower income households are feeling it the most, with tight budgets getting hit by the rise of rent, gas and overall living costs. While bitcoin is not a silver bullet, it’s a strong solution for minimizing the wealth gap and opening the door to financial inclusion where fiat has failed.
Global remittances are one of the most vital sources of income for the emerging markets, but few money transfer companies exist that comply with local regulations. This forces people into using companies that charge higher fees and puts less money into the pockets of the people who need it most. Bitcoin fixes this, providing a better alternative to the way people send money with lower fees, faster speed and access for the unbanked. In El Salvador, where bitcoin is legal tender, it is estimated that money service providers will lose $400 million a year in commissions for remittances. People all around the world use the Bitcoin network to send money abroad in peer-to-peer fashion, no longer having to pay third-party fees to send money to family. Take Angela Cunha, for example, a Paxful user in Brazil. Angela moves bitcoin to and from her family members in the U.S.and with bitcoin, she is able to transact quickly and avoid expensive remittance fees.
The role of wealth in politics has also become an important issue, as the powerful few control many of the decisions that affect our financial well-being. For example, when a country decides to devalue or demonetize a currency, as we’ve seen in countries like China, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, this can put an entire population into poverty within weeks or days. Devaluing a nation’s currency not only hurts the citizens of the country, but has a ripple effect across the globe, causing markets to fall or forcing many into a recession. For the people plagued by hyperinflation, bitcoin functions as a store of value. With only 21 million bitcoin that can ever be mined, it is a strong alternative for those in search of wealth preservation.
Narrowing in on Africa, income inequality is widespread across the continent. Recent reports show that more than half of the world’s most unequal countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. Driving the wealth gap are three main areas — education, finance and land — all of which many lack access to. That’s why we’re committed to increasing education on the continent through campus tours, events and the opening of the PaxNaija educational center in Nigeria. We’ve seen from our work on the ground that Africans are entrepreneurial, smart and resourceful — with the right tools, they can adapt to anything that is thrown their way.
If you want to help get more people out of poverty, they need access to sound money — and there’s nothing sounder in my mind than bitcoin. While many still focus on bitcoin as a speculative asset, especially during the recent drop in price, it’s important we remain focused on bitcoin’s real day-to-day use cases. Bitcoin can provide financial freedom and be a source of opportunity for those seeking a way out from centralized systems and corrupt governments. To achieve financial equality, we all need to start looking at bitcoin through a new lens. This is just the beginning my friends — we are only scratching the surface — and with bitcoin, it’s my belief that despite the current outlook, the next decade will bring even greater change for the better.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.