There can be little doubt that “the internet” dramatically changed the world over the past 20 years. Now many believe that “the blockchain” will have a similar positive effect on the world. Blockchains are the technology behind popular crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, Dash and Litecoin that have seen a huge surge in popularity over the past 8 years. While some people still consider them to be simply “nerd money” for geeks, manynow believe they will have a profound effect on humanity. Here are just a few ways in which blockchain crypto-currencies are changing the lives of billions of people around the world.
Banking The Unbanked
According to the World Bank there are approximately 2.5 billion unbanked people on the planet who are unable obtain financial services. This makes it nearly impossible for these people to save their way out of poverty or to simply make an online purchase. Thanks to crypto-currencies like bitcoin, anyone with a smartphone can now download a free bitcoin wallet and start saving instantly. They can also make purchases at a growing number of online retailers that support cryptocurrencies and they can even offer their services online and get paid in bitcoin from anywhere in the world.
Before the advent of the internet, most countries had pretty draconian laws when it came to pornography. These laws are now pretty meaningless and aren’t enforced in most countries because porn is so freely available online. The same thing is currentlyhappening with online gambling thanks to the cryptocurrencies. The United States government’s strategy to prohibit gambling has been to prevent financial institutions from processing gambling transactions to offshore gambling sites. This has made it nearly impossible for poker players or sports bettors in the United States to make deposits or withdrawals using their U.S. bank accounts or credit cards. Bitcoin transactions are peer-to-peer which means the U.S. government is not able to block or censor transactions between gambling sites and U.S. punters. Cryptocurrency sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms make anti-gambling legislation like The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) completely redundant.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’s)
In the past if you had a great idea for a new online service, you often needed to attract investment from venture capital firms in order to make your dream a reality. Unfortunately, VC money is scarce and is mostly concentrated in places like Silicon Valley so it is out of the reach of many budding entrepreneurs. Now many startups are instead opting to issue tokens/vouchers for their new service that can be purchased by anyone online as a means to raise investment. These tokens are issued on the Ethereum blockchain and have so far raised over $1 billion dollars in the first half of 2017 alone.
Bitcoin Is Replacing Gold
The price of gold has been going down for the past few years while the price of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies has been skyrocketing. This is no coincidence. Digital gold is the choice of a new generation who prefer the mobility that bitcoin has to offer. Bitcoin users who control their wallets private keys have full control over their own bitcoin and are free to do with it what they please. Governments cannot seize digital gold providing you keep your private keys safe and secure.
In some countries it is illegal to make donations to certain groups or political parties. For example, WikiLeaks were unable to receive donations because pressure from the US government forced PayPal, Visa and Mastercard to withdraw their services. They have since raised millions of dollars in crypto-currency donations since they added support for bitcoin.