This article first appeared at Bitcoin Not Bombs.
When I went to the Texas Bitcoin Conference a couple months ago, I met Lafe Taylor and Lamar Wilson of Love Will LLC. I learned that they had designed a hot wallet that iPhone users could access by joining a co-op. By getting an enterprise license and setting up the C.O.G. Cooperative, they were able to create a wallet that followed Apple’s guidelines. The Pheeva wallet is very user friendly and they have recently partnered with Gyft to allow users to buy Gyft cards directly from the app.
Based in Lexington, KY, Lafe and Lamar focus on empowering local communities with bitcoin and blockchain technology. They educate younger generations by teaching them how to code and show people of all ages how to get started with bitcoin.The feedback has been positive and they have developed relationships with a wide variety of organizations and colleges in order to spread the influence of bitcoin. Their direct action approach is very effective at increasing freedom for people most in need. There are around 10 million unbanked individuals in the country, and bitcoin provides an accessible service to those people so they aren’t reliant on predatory money services businesses.
Lamar introduced me to the term “potluck capitalism” in Texas, and I found it fascinating and an accurate term to describe how freed markets work for the people. Co-ops are based on the input and participation of the members; the cooperation of the members keep it running. With co-ops there is more of an incentive to give back to the members and workers, and you most often see them as member owned grocery stores or providing the alternative to corporations in mutual aid based societies. The great thing about co-ops is that they provide a community oriented approach to solving problems–the style is more democratic than other hierarchical organizations. By bringing more people into your co-op you are raising its value and it creates a “cycle of goodness”. The Pheeva team rewards users with patronage points for referring people to the hot wallet, and are in the process of developing other apps you can access as a member of the C.O.G. Cooperative. They also plan to ad advertisements for businesses who will provide discounts on their services for C.O.G. members.
You can create your own economy with bitcoin and for those who are restricted by regulations or tough financial situations, bitcoin gives them a reprieve. We discuss remittances in our interview below, and they are a multimillion dollar industry for money transmitter services like Western Union. But, there are outrageous fees attached to using these other services; Western Union charges 10 to send money to other states just within the United States. These fees hit the poorest people the hardest, and by offering an alternative payment system and currency in bitcoin they can save more capital and build value within an economy that better meets their needs.
Another subject we touched on was making bitcoin education more accessible to people. Although bitcoin conferences are great for educational purposes, they are often cost prohibitive to many people who could benefit from the knowledge. Cherise Wilson, Lamar’s wife, suggested doing a webinar series for bitcoin topics. After the broadcast ended, Lamar, Lafe, and I discussed organizing a free web conference for those who wish to attend a conference but lack the funds. Details will be forthcoming.
If you are able to attend the Bitcoin in the Beltway conference in June, consider coming to their talk entitled, “The Least of These and the Giving Economy” that will focus on building the charitable side of the bitcoin economy.
You can view our entire interview below: