Empowerment. It is not a concept that many banks and national governments practice providing to their citizenry. You may get lip service to that effect, but the oppression, not the opportunity of the people is what usually takes place, at scale. Take Bitcoin in Africa, for example. Bitcoin is a natural fit, and could be a revolutionary technological change for the people of many African nations. How’s it going? Let’s take a closer look at BitPesa, Bitcoin, and Africa.
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BitPesa has been working on bringing Bitcoin to the people of Africa since 2013, as the creation of Elizabeth Rossiello and Duncan Goldie -Scot. It is a Bitcoin-based follow-up to the famous M-Pesa text-based phone payment network that revolutionized Kenya and Tanzania in the Spring of 2007, M-Pesa went from a tech concept in a cash-based society to the leading form of payment, generating almost 50% of the countries GDP by 2014.
BitPesa has not been the breakaway success so far that M-Pesa has been. They have tried to forge some alliance with M-Pesa, owned by Vodafone/Safaricom/ Vodacom, but this has not worked out. The two sides are in court and BitPesa has been removed from the M-Pesa network, which is in appeals by BitPesa. M-Pesa has expanded to South Africa and Afghanistan. M-Pesa has connected with 60 African banks, and operates in Uganda and Nigeria, as well.
“As a company founded in Kenya, we built on M-Pesa; as a pan-African enterprise, we have gone above and beyond M-Pesa,” says Rossielo.
BitPesa has been able to get thousands of Bitcoin users into their system, enough to generate a public response from the Central Bank of Kenya recently, warning against Bitcoin, and highlighting potential Bitcoin usage issues. While M-Pesa is based on cash and phone time exchanges, BitPesa works through Bitcoin, and this action by the central bank proves to Rossielo that BitPesa is becoming a factor in the free marketplace. BitPesa’s bitcoin services take monetary remittance fees down from an average of 10% to 3%, bringing value that the current banking community does not offer.
"You can pay somebody in China instantly using bitcoin. There has been $1 billion in investment from venture capitalists in 2015 alone into this technology. Two billion dollars’ worth of bitcoin is traded every day. So why would Kenya close its eyes to this, and opt out of a new technology?" Rossielo asked Anadolu Agency in an interview.
A better question may be “Why should the banking and government support this economic initiative? Russell may be answering her own question. How does it serve the establishment to empower the people with new technology, 70% lower costs, and less money moving directly into the banking industry? A well-funded, more educated proletariat rarely serves government’s goals, in the long run. That’s assuming you know what government’s priorities are in the first place, which is to control the populace.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Bitcoin became illegal in more countries, primarily because it is a deregulated superior monetary system, designed to empower people worldwide. Keeping the locals ignorant of the incredible technologies and economic advantages of working outside of the establishment protects The State from competition, in he long run. What national partners like banks and government want Bitcoin to flourish domestically? “Power to the people” is a great slogan or mantra, and it certainly works on the campaign trail, see the Greek SYRIZA party election in 2014 as the most recent example. Once in office, is that really how the government operates, in practice?
BFFs government and national banks love the status quo, and the control they enjoy over the populace. A public warning is most likely Stage 1 in a coming Kenyan establishment program against Bitcoin, and it’s associated businesses. Empowerment is a four-letter word in banking and government policy. BitPesa has awoken a sleeping giant. Their hopes of gaining an ally in M-Pesa’s network, a smart move strategically, seem to have failed. It looks like they will take on a three-headed monster of the banks, the government, and an ignorant population. I hope they’ve brought their lunch.
This is not just African nations, by the way. This is any Bitcoin business in most countries around the world. How many Icelanders are there, where the banking criminals are thrown in jail, the banks are closed, and the proceeds go to the citizens? Few nation-states are trying to build the perfect national philosophy, particularly economically. Nations are partners, if not flat-out dependent upon centralized national banking systems. The target market may be down with a superior new technology, but there are some serious dragons to slay before you get to Valhalla.