I am writing this post in response to comments I get from people when I try and explain what Bitcoin is. Uneducated people have told me countless times that bitcoins are only used by criminals. I want to debunk that myth and explain how the real potential for bitcoins is so much bigger than the black market can ever be.
Bitcoin is literally saving my family from hunger and giving them the financial freedom to immigrate in the near future. My parents and sister live in Venezuela. A lot of you might not know exactly what’s happening there so here are the cliff notes.
- An incredibly incompetent socialist government took power.
- They created strict currency controls that made it impossible for people to buy goods in anything other than their local currency. If you owned a business and needed to import something from overseas you needed the government’s approval to exchange the local currency to US dollars
- This made running a business almost impossible. To operate you had to buy US dollars on a black market or bribe a government official to exchange currency.
- When oil prices dropped the government quickly ran out of money causing an expected inflation of 1800% in 2017.
For more about what’s going on in Venezuela check our www.reddit.com/r/arepas
Things started to get really bad in Venezuela around 2014. My father owned at the time a successful air conditioning repair business but he knew things were about to take a turn for the worse. We came up with a plan to open a US bank account and convert bolívars (Venezuelan currency) into US dollars so we would be protected from inflation. We quickly ran into logistical problems, physically getting and safely transporting the money out of the country.
Caracas is one of the most violent cities in the world. Carjackings are common and people are killed for their cell phones. The airport police are corrupt and just as likely to rob you, and the money can’t be put in the local bank because you aren’t allowed to have dollars.
I’m 2014 Bitcoin was a new technology so we were very skeptical about it but we didn’t have any other options.
Fast forward to 2017. The economy is Venezuela is dead. My father lost his air conditioning business and people like our neighbors that were middle and upper class a few years ago can’t afford food. Thanks to the rising price of Bitcoin and its relative stability (to the Venezuelan economy), my family is part of a very small fortunate minority that can afford to help feed their community and also potentially immigrate to another country.
Now consider how big the Venezuelan economy is and that other countries like Brazil and Argentina are also experiencing similar problems. If citizens converted only a small amount of their savings into bitcoins this would represent an incredible amount of money.
Bitcoin can give anyone the ability to trade freely and protect themselves financially against corrupt and incompetent governments. In a world of 6 billion people, most of whom have no access or are ineligible for basic banking services, and an increasing number of governments opposing free speech and basic human rights, Bitcoin might not be the perfect hero we want but it’s what we need.
So in summary, Bitcoin is used by criminals the same way cash is used by criminals. If you take one step back you’ll realize that the possible legitimate uses for Bitcoin are far greater than the black market can ever be.
The author of this essay requested to remain anonymous.