Speaking at the first annual Litecoin Summit in San Francisco, Zach Cavanaugh of Zulu Republic, a Zug-based cryptocurrency startup, presented a compelling argument for why cryptocurrencies are essential tools for combating human misery and counterbalancing human manipulation, corruption and discrimination, as well as circumventing profit motives that tar huge swaths of the global population as undesirable.
Zulu Republic aims to deploy blockchain technology in countries where “internet connectivity is scarce, where the web is censored by autocratic regimes and where large segments of the population are marginalized by the conventional financial system.”
While there’s a disconnect between cryptocurrency and everyday people who use traditional money seamlessly and find no compelling reason to adopt Bitcoin or Litecoin, Cavanaugh illustrates how blockchain can alleviate some of the man-made devastation caused by civil war.
He takes a hard look at the migrant crisis.
“One day you hear that there’s a group of armed militants that are about a day away from your town and this group just has a reputation for destroying everything they come across. So what do you do? You don’t have any choice but to get your family and just flee. You have to run for your life. And I mean run literally because you don’t have a car. So you have to escape on foot, and you can only take with you what you can carry.
So, the question then is, what do you take with you?…
It’s going to be the basic necessities: you’re going to take whatever cash you, your mobile phone, medicine and basic survival necessities, and hopefully you don’t forget anything essential in that panic.”
“In some of the places that you travel through, they’ve developed entire economies around exploiting refugees, and the police in those places often turn a blind eye to crimes committed against foreign migrants. So, let’s say you’re traveling through one of these places, and you get mugged. And this is something that happens all the time. They take your phone, your ID, whatever cash you didn’t have hidden away on your body somewhere. And if this happens, you’re really screwed. Migrants in these cases without an ID, without money, they often have no legal recourse. They have to beg on the street for food. Think of all the things that you need an ID for. Getting a job, an education, putting a roof over your head, even for one night, in many cases to get a hotel, accessing banking services, registering births, deaths, marriages, getting medical care, qualifying for social benefits. The list goes on.”
“Last year was the worst year on record for refugees and displaced people: 68.5 million displaced people, 25.4 million refugees and 10 million stateless people in 2017.”
These are not attractive banking customers. There’s no monetary incentive. But they’re the human face of the most critical uses cases for blockchain.
“Litecoin, Bitcoin – it’s portable money that transcends borders. Crypto can’t be stolen if you follow best practices. You can’t get locked out of it. It can’t be censored or mismanaged by governments.”
While Cavanaugh acknowledges that blockchain isn’t the magic wand that can eliminate the refugee crisis, he believes it can greatly reduce the ills of the aftermath. Litecoin, for example, can be transported digitally. Anyone would be able to use Lite.im, a service designed for anyone with a basic mobile phone, with or without internet access, to send Litecoin through SMS messaging.
📱SMS now available in the US. Try it out, text either:
— Lite.IM (@liteim_official) September 22, 2018
Cavanaugh also talks about the importance of using blockchain to secure our identities.
“If we really care about freedom and sovereignty, we shouldn’t allow our identities to be owned and controlled by corrupt governments or companies that have a profit motive. It should be in your control.”
“In the cases of migrants and refugees, if we had a widely accepted self-sovereign identity system, it couldn’t get lost or stolen or revoked or used for fraud. And it could simplify the process of applying for asylum, getting financial aid, accessing legal and health services.”
“And when you do arrive at this UN refugee camp, your ID is already in the system.”
Cavanaugh also points out that cryptocurrencies allow philanthropists to send money directly to people in crisis, without fear of corruption and the huge administrative costs that deplete donations and leave cents on the dollar.