Jed McCaleb: Five Use Cases for Bitcoin Use in Developing Countries

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In this commentary, Jed McCaleb suggests different ways in which Bitcoin enables people in developing countries to access financial services at low prices.

People in developing countries: Early adopters from Bitcoin formula

There is often speculation about the killer app, which is intended to accelerate the broad acceptance of Bitcoin formula. However, we rarely look beyond Europe and North America, while digital money has already taken root in developing countries. From Bitcoin in Latin America’s social networks to mobile purses in South Africa, you can see that digital currencies are gaining ground in communities all over the world.

In this article, we look at some of the most compelling Bitcoin trader projects:

Taringa! is one of the larger Bitcoin trader social networks in Latin America. It reminds of Reddit: Users share links and discuss about them. Taringa! recently donated $76,000 to users in Bitcoin. Social networks provide a barrier-free way to use digital financial services. Rewarding content with Bitcoin also strengthens the user base and introduces Bitcoin trader newcomers to digital currencies.

The ecash system of the World Food Programme enables refugees in Kenya to buy food with their mobile phones. For a destitute refugee in a foreign country, funds can be locked in an inaccessible bank account in the home country. The World Food Programme sends money directly to these refugees for basic needs such as food and shelter.

Since direct money transfer proved to be the most effective way to get people out of poverty, the WFP system shows the potential of digital currencies in the charitable sector. The Nigerian Digital Wallet Bitsoko uses funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide people with more knowledge in digital finance. Bitsoko’s Android app uses the blockchain to minimize transaction costs.

The company advocates a broad adoption of Bitcoin in Kenya and helps local companies implement Bitcoin. Vumi’s upcoming open-source app will help young mothers in South Africa save money on their mobile phones. The Praekelt Foundation uses the Stellar Network as an infrastructure whereby the wallet can contain multiple currencies (including fiat currencies).

The aim of Praekelt’s project is not simply to create digital savings accounts – research has shown that girls with a savings account stay longer in school, are healthier and actively participate in economic development.

Women in rural India were previously prohibited from owning a mobile phone. Today they use these mobile phones for their household management. They use this technology to access their current and savings accounts and some have already started their own innovative projects.

These projects represent only a fraction of what digital money can do for low-income countries. Crypto may need a killer app in the United States or the United Kingdom, but in much of the world it is already helping people gain cheap access to financial services, enabling them to improve their lives on their own.