With the rise of Bitcoin, the world has seen countless cryptocurrency millionaires bragging about the Lamborghinis they’ve bought with their lucky crypto investments. Then there’s the guy who paid 10,000 Bitcoin (worth $70 million today) for two large pizzas in 2010, making it the most expensive pizza purchase in history.
Aside from the hoopla, though, is the crypto-revolution good for humankind? Is there a loftier purpose behind the madness—which many compare to the “1994 of the Internet”? Indeed, there is.
Here are three ways that cryptocurrency technology is shepherding the world into a better future.
1. Financial Freedom for Developing Nations
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain ledger technology are benefiting people in developing nations by giving them access to previously-unavailable banking and technology services. Here’s a sample of what blockchain tech is making possible in the developing world:
International business opportunities: With a digital wallet and the press of a button, a goat herder in Kenya can order a new solar panel for his hut from a manufacturer in China, and have it shipped directly to his local post office. In fact, about five years ago, one-third of Kenyans gained access to a Bitcoin wallet via M-Pesa, a financing and loan service included as a standard feature on their smartphones.
Trustworthy, inexpensive banking for everyone: Cryptocurrencies offer a means for trustworthy and inexpensive financial exchange that requires zero government or banking supervision. An estimated two billion people around the world don’t have access to traditional banking services or financial exchanges. However, with an internet-connected smartphone—or just access to an internet cafe—these individuals can make local and international payments, invest, trade investments and save for the future through a free blockchain-based cryptocurrency exchange.
New access to developmental loans: Cryptocurrencies allow financially-strapped nations to gain access to developmental loans. Venezuela’s petro cryptocurrency is one example of such efforts. Nations that have defaulted on World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans, perhaps with nowhere else to turn for funding,are now raising money independent of the global banking system through initial coin offerings and other cryptocurrency ventures.
Identity verification solutions: Blockchain technology offers developing nations cost-effective I.D. verification solutions, providing easier access to services that require a verified I.D., such as healthcare, border control, education, financial services and more. This technology is already being used to help refugees in war-torn regions of the world.
2. Environmentally-Friendly Solutions to Protect the Planet
Blockchain technology will benefit more than just humanity. It will also benefit the environment. Here are a few examples of green-friendly blockchain tech:
Solutions for managing the lifecycle of carbon credits: Smart contracts are being used to manage the lifecycle of carbon credits, paving the way for more transparency and accountability as governments try to impose stricter environmental protection laws. Settling carbon credit transactions via a transparent, immutable blockchain ledger prevents corruption, fraud and other abuses that have been commonplace in the environmental protection arena.
Environmentally-focused fundraising: Ice cream seller Ben & Jerry’s has been using cryptocurrency to inspire its customers to contribute money to save the environment through micro-donations. Ben & Jerry’s has already used blockchain-based crowdfunding to save an area of rainforest that fills the size of 100 tennis courts. Go here to get involved!
Expanding the use of renewable energy: GEAR Token plans to reinvent the way Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are mined. Rather than using coal-based or nuclear-sourced electricity to power the computers that mine Bitcoin, GEAR Token plans to set up crypto-mining operations powered by renewable sources like biomass, solar, wind and hydropower. It then hopes to use the cryptocurrencies it mines to fund research into better, renewable energy technology.
GEAR token recognizes that we already have the technology required to be fully independent of environment-damaging energy sources. All we have to do is focus our efforts to inspire mass adoption of renewable energy solutions. You can visit the GEAR Token website to get involved.
3. Crowdfunding 2.0 without the Middleman
Although Bitcoin functions more like a commodity such as silver or gold, other types of cryptocurrencies can serve as utility tokens to fund business, social and environmental projects:
Cutting out the crowdfunding middleman: Cutting out the middleman is key to the success of cryptocurrency fundraising. By selling newly-issued Crypto tokens directly to investors, startups access grassroots capital without forfeiting a massive cut to crowdfunding websites. Cryptocurrency initial coin offerings have already paved the way for environmental groups and businesses to quickly raise funds to pay for their projects. When cryptocurrency fundraising like this goes viral, there’s no limit to its capital-raising potential.
The Sky is the Limit
The above examples are just several ways that blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are improving the world. As techno-tinkerers, thought leaders and visionaries continue to imagine how blockchain solutions can aid society and the environment, there’s no telling what the future of blockchain will hold.
Jeremy Hillpot is an investment fraud litigation consultant. Fascinated by emerging technologies like blockchain, and the laws and market trends that follow them, Jeremy’s background in consumer fraud litigation provides a unique perspective on a vast array of topics including investments, startups, cryptocurrencies and law.