This is the opinion editor of Haider Rafiq, global marketing director of OKX cryptocurrency exchange.
As we reflect on a wild and dismal year in the markets, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we’re experiencing the next great technological revolution. Anyone who doubts this just needs to take ChatGPT for a spin and imagine how AI will change society in the coming years. Market cycles come and go, but innovations built today bring lasting potential to change our lives in the future.
However, the underappreciated tragedy of this technological advancement lies in those who fail to take advantage of it. Almost 1.5 billion people in the world are unbanked – without a modern financial system. In times of economic recession, they face great challenges to improve their living standards, let alone benefit from the latest technology that can improve their lives.
The majority of unbanked people live in developing countries, which will suffer more from rapid inflation in 2022. It’s not going away — the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that inflation in emerging markets and developing economies will be roughly twice that of developed countries. Those in 2023.
Last year saw some alarming examples of runaway inflation – annual inflation in Turkey reached 85%. Annual inflation in Lebanon was well above 100% throughout 2022. Heavy-handed, interventionist monetary policy led to political crises and cut access to reliable banking services.
It is clear that the systemic risks embedded in the old financial system, as well as the policy responses of many governments, have failed to effectively serve those most vulnerable to economic shocks.
Bitcoin can help fix that. Nothing is a panacea, but if we have any chance of bringing greater economic equality and financial inclusion to those who need it most, we need a Bitcoin-led financial revolution to be part of the solution.
I know that Bitcoin can help this revolution. This is because Bitcoin:
- Money that does not require intermediaries to move anywhere in the world
- Designed for programmatic deflation
- An open, decentralized and permissionless protocol
However, there is a huge data gap that needs to be filled before Bitcoin can reach its potential. Therefore, the first thing is to educate people about what Bitcoin is, provide examples of what Bitcoin can do for them, and fight for a crypto policy that preserves the unique benefits of the technology. This is how we can create the best ecosystem for Bitcoin to be an effective catalyst for change.
Increasing Bitcoin adoption through education
The current global financial climate seems like the perfect storm for Bitcoin advocates to call for greater acceptance of bitcoin as both a store of value and a payment technology.
However, ask the average person on the street what Bitcoin is and you’re unlikely to get a positive answer. We have the bear market, the Three Arrows Capital implosion, and the FTX debacle to thank for that. These highly publicized developments set back Bitcoin adoption by several years and dealt a major blow to the reputation of the technology that underpins the asset itself.
As Chief Marketing Officer at OKX, I am focused not only on finding platforms to market our business, but also on building awareness of Bitcoin among key audiences who may be the next wave of adopters. Thanks to our partnership with Manchester City FC, McLaren Racing and the Tribeca Film Festival, we hope the promotion will lift all boats.
But awareness is only half the battle. User adoption occurs when people are convinced of real-world use cases for a technology. Theoretical arguments are nice, but that’s the world you’ve been doing to me lately. Fortunately, the practical arguments for Bitcoin have become abundantly clear after last year’s events:
- Direct, fast, cheap money transfers: The protocol enables bitcoin transfers anywhere in the world, at any time, without the need for expensive money service providers or complicated banking processes.
- Censorship Avoidance: Traditional banking can’t stop anyone from using the protocol, which has real implications for those in need during outages, conflicts, or legal movements.
- Anti-inflationary store of value: No central control authority means that no one can alter the supply of bitcoin or devalue the asset through inflation.
It takes a lot of work to spread awareness about these benefits and cut through the noise. For every Bitcoin advocate, that hard work begins now. Every journey has setbacks and challenges. But those of us who truly believe in Bitcoin must do everything we can to expand the reach and awareness of this technology so that it can realize its revolutionary potential.
This is a guest post by Haider Rafiq. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.