Since January, crypto currencies are seeing their market cap shrink severely. All regulation issues aside, one of the biggest criticism is that people fail to see the proper application of the technology in improving everyday challenges and therefore are just considered a mere tool for financial speculation
Although many ICOs promise products or processes that will simplify our lives , there are very immediate applications for the blockchain
2 billion people (25% of the global population) don’t have a bank account. Unsurprisingly half of them belong to the poorest 40% of the society. There are many reasons to explain this: time need to get the paperwork involved in the process, cost of opening a bank account, low income levels, financial illiteracy, inability to comply with strict KYC
Most of them live in low and middle income emerging markets, but even in high-income countries, large numbers of people are unable to use banks to meet their day to day financial needs. This means they don’t have access to the convenience, to security and to interest that banks provide.
Without access to savings and credit, these people cannot participate in the virtuous cycle of economic growth, instead of remaining in a vicious cycle of poverty.
The current alternatives aren’t optimized. Microfinance loans saw banks get in the game and the interests charged has increased dramatically. As a result, when the underbanked really need money they depend mostly on informal providers for financial services,such as unscrupulous money lenders who charge exorbitant transaction fee
Blockchain technology has the potential to help the unbanked by allowing them to create their own financial alternatives in an efficient, transparent and scalable manner.
Property rights, long a pain point for many low-income individuals, can also be moved onto the Blockchain, allowing them to enter formal information networks and even leverage their property as collateral. And by making remittances painless and efficient, Blockchain could allow low-income individuals in different countries to save and lend together.
Blockchain provides a secure, scalable way to serve the needs of these individuals, and a number of technology companies are leveraging it to usher in a world in which everyone has access to the savings and credit that is an essential building block for economic growth.
Many interesting projects are running such as OmiseGo, Wetrust or Humaniq but one I came across that could really make a difference is Sentinel. It aims to help and service the 420 Million unbanked in Asia. The farmers whose livestock can’t be monetized and are therefore locked value. They can’t be legally recognized as collateral for bank loans plunging the farmers in the vicious circle of poverty. The Sentinel chain blockchain platform allows to quantify, identify and verify livestock ownership, thus unlocking their value and allowing the owners to have access to a wide range of financial solutions helping to participate in economic growth
It is hard not to listen to the old leaders of the financial world criticising Bitcoin and the whole blockchain technology calling them a bubble worst than the Tulip Mania. But true innovation lies here , with transparency, speed, savings and equality for all.