Bitcoin can be a powerful tool in unbanked and underbanked regions of the world. But even oppressive regimes are a breeding ground for Bitcoin enthusiasm, as citizens can avoid the entire country’s ecosystem by using digital currency. In Cuba, the first ever public Bitcoin transaction has been recorded in the country’s history books.
Cuba – A Country On The Rebound After A Dark Period
Needless to say, Cuba has had a long and coloured history with the United States for quite some time now. In recent months, however, negotiations between Washington D.C. and Cuba are paving the way for a fruitful collaboration between both countries again. This is about time, considering both countries have been “at war” with one another for over 50 years.
These bright future prospects are a direct result of Barack Obama’s efforts to liberalize Cuba’s economy, which also affects Cuban-Americans living both on the Island and in the United States. If all things go according to plan, the US Congress will lift the trade embargo between both countries and put a stop to travel restrictions from the US to Cuba and vice versa.
“It’s about showing Cubans and the Bitcoin community that it is now possible to receive Bitcoin through Nauta, the Cuban state-run public Wi-Fi. This will hopefully open everyone’s eyes on the possibilities and finally put Cuba on the Bitcoin map. The idea came about spontaneously.” – BitcoinCuba founder Fernando Villar told the media.
According to the BitcoinCuba organization, the disruptive digital currency could play a key role in Cuba’s economy for many years to come. However, given the country’s history, there will be a lot of obstacles along the way and it will take time to overcome them all. But that isn’t curbing the enthusiasm of Bitcoin enthusiasts in Cuba.
Now that Cuban government officials have created WiFi parks throughout the country, internet connectivity is on the rise. But there is a good reason to remain cautious as well. One hour of WiFi access costs US $2 and the average monthly wage for Cubans is US $20. Even though there are a lot of people bringing their mobile devices and laptops to these WiFi parks, it remains to be seen whether or not internet usage will keep increasing at those prices.
Potential For Bitcoin Is Huge, Albeit Costly To Cubans
Despite a steep price to pay for WiFi connectivity, these parks create an incredible opportunity for Bitcoin in the next few months. Once the average Cuban can receive a tiny bit of funds through Bitcoin (without paying hefty fees, waiting for money to clear and completely bypassing any remaining capital controls) Bitcoin adoption could really thrive.
“Right now Cubans deal with a dual currency system that makes it prohibitive for Cubans to compete in a global market. There aren’t many currency exchanges in which people are buying up Cuban pesos or convertible pesos, so their currency is essentially worthless outside of the island.” – Fernando Villar concluded.
If Bitcoin, the leading decentralized digital currency, can break ground in Cuba (a country with one of the most centralized economies in the world) there is no way to stop the Bitcoin revolution. Easily purchased Internet access is the first step towards creating an entirely new breed of financial technology in Cuba, in which Bitcoin and the blockchain can play a huge role.
Source: Press Release via Email
Images courtesy of Shutterstock