Bitcoin has the potential to really make a difference for the four billion people who can not trust their leaders or access the banking system, according to Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation and Guest Lecturer at Singularity University.
In an article for Time, he observes that Venezuelans are adopting and experimenting with cryptocurrency to evade hyperinflation and rigid financial controls. "Speculation, fraud and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real and liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto's invention.For people living under authoritarian governments, Bitcoin can be a valuable financial instrument as a means of exchange resistant to censorship ".
In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, Robert Mugabe has printed endless amounts of money and inflated his citizens' savings into nothing, but his successors can not print more Bitcoins. In China, Xi Jinping can track all your transactions on Alipay and WePay, but can not orchestrate mass surveillance on all Bitcoin payments. In Russia, Vladimir Putin can target an NGO and freeze his bank account, but he can not block his Bitcoin wallet.
The dark side
At the same time, however, it is necessary to address the dark side of emerging technology. "The regimes in Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia are trying to change and centralize the Bitcoin concept of peer-to-peer digital money to create state-controlled cryptocurrencies like Petro, which could allow them to censor transactions, monitor accounts users and evade sanctions, "writes Gladstein.
Ultimately, Bitcoin is still a nascent technology and does not offer usability, speed or privacy at the forefront. But engineers are constantly working on these attributes by creating better apps and ramps, updating the basic protocol and creating new second-tier technologies such as Lightning Network.
"In the same way that the mobile phone started out as absurdly expensive, barely functional and available only to the elite, Bitcoin continues to evolve and will become easier to use and more accessible to the masses in the future," says Gladstein .