This is an opinion piece by Haider Rafique, the global marketing director for cryptocurrency exchange OKX.
As we look back on a crazy and deplorable year in the markets, it’s easy to forget the fact that we’re living through the next big tech revolution. Anyone doubting this need only take ChatGPT for a spin and imagine how artificial intelligence will change society in the years to come. Market cycles come and go, but innovations built today hold lasting potential to revolutionize the way we live our lives in the future.
Yet the underestimated tragedy of this technological advance lies in those who do not benefit from it. Nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide are unbanked — cut off from the modern financial system. In times of economic downturn, they face high chances of improving their standard of living, not to mention taking advantage of the latest technologies that can improve their lives.
The majority of the unbanked are in developing countries which have been hit hard by rapid inflation in 2022. This is not going away – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate that inflation in emerging markets and developing economies will be nearly double that of advanced economies in 2023.
The past year has produced frightening examples of runaway inflation – in Turkey, annual inflation peaked at 85%. In Lebanon, annual inflation was well above 100% throughout 2022. An authoritarian and interventionist monetary policy triggered political crises and access to reliable banking services was disrupted.
It is clear that the systemic risks embedded in the legacy financial system as well as the policy responses of many governments have failed spectacularly to serve those most vulnerable to economic shocks.
Bitcoin can help solve this problem. Nothing is a panacea, but if we have any chance of bringing more economic equality and financial inclusion to those who need it most, we need a Bitcoin-led financial revolution to be part of the solution.
I know Bitcoin can help bring about this revolution. This is because Bitcoin is:
- Money that does not require intermediaries to be transferred anywhere in the world
- Programmatically designed to be deflationary
- An open, decentralized and permissionless protocol
However, there is a huge information gap that needs to be filled before Bitcoin can reach its potential. That’s why we must first educate people about what Bitcoin is, provide them with examples of what Bitcoin can do for them, and fight for crypto policy that preserves the unique benefits of the technology. This is how we can create the best ecosystem for Bitcoin to be an effective catalyst for change.
Increase Bitcoin Adoption Through Education
Currently, the global financial climate looks like a perfect storm for bitcoin advocates to call for greater adoption of bitcoin as both a store of value and a payment technology.
However, ask the average person on the street what Bitcoin is, and you probably won’t get a positive answer. We have the bear market, Three Spire Capital Implosion and FTX debacle thank for that. These high-profile developments set Bitcoin adoption back for years and significantly damaged the reputation of the technology that underpins the asset itself.
As Marketing Director at OKX, I focus on finding platforms that not only market our business, but build understanding of Bitcoin among mainstream audiences who could be the next wave of adopters. Through our partnerships with FC Manchester City, McLaren racing and the Tribeca Film Festivalwe hope a rising tide will lift all boats.
But awareness is only half the battle. User adoption happens when people are convinced of the real use cases of a technology. Theoretical arguments are nice, but it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world. Fortunately, the practical arguments for Bitcoin became very clear after the events of the last year:
- Fast money transfer, without intermediary and at low cost: The protocol enables bitcoin transfers anywhere in the world, anytime, without the need for expensive money service providers or cumbersome banking processes.
- Censorship avoidance: No one can stop anyone from using the protocol, which has real implications for people in need in times of traditional bank failures, conflicts or advocacy movements.
- Anti-inflationary store of value: No central oversight authority means no one can change bitcoin’s supply or devalue the asset through inflation
It will take hard work to publicize these benefits and reduce the noise. For every bitcoin advocate, that hard work starts now. Every journey has setbacks and difficulties. But those of us who truly believe in Bitcoin must do everything we can to expand access and awareness of this technology so that it can fulfill its revolutionary potential.
This is a guest post by Haider Rafique. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.