Empowering Change: Unbanked Bitcoin Users Transforming Communities in Peru

From the Andes to the Amazon, unbanked communities in Peru are using BTC, and it’s having a notably positive effect on them.

“The work we’re doing in the communities with circular bitcoin economies is bringing results,” Franco Granja, a team member at the Peruvian nonprofit initiative Motiv, told me in an interview. “The results don’t come in a day or two, but in the three or four years we’ve been working with BTC, people have come to understand its value. They’ve begun to think about saving for their children or buying a house or car.”

Source: Medium
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Most Peruvians Are Unbanked

The BTC inflow into Peru is particularly helpful, as Peru has one of the highest percentages of unbanked citizens in the world, according to Merchant Machine data. Over 50% of its population doesn’t have a bank account.

This means that the majority of the population has no means of saving for the future and most transact with the cash version of the national currency, the Peruvian sol, which has lUnbanked Bitcoin : Socio-Economic Transformation in Peru’s Communitiesost a significant amount of its purchasing power in recent years due to inflation.

“Using bitcoin, they don’t have to depend on fiat money, money that loses value,” added Granja. “They understand that bitcoin actually has value and recognize that, over time, this value grows. This gives them hope, and they continue using it in their lives and businesses.”

Women As Leaders In Bitcoin BTC Circular Economies

Valentin Popescu, co-founder and head of field operations for Motiv, also told me in an interview that bitcoin brings hope to residents of the communities with which the NGO works. However, Popescu doesn’t lead with BTC when he starts working in these communities.

Instead, he assesses the needs of each community, brings in specialists—from shoemakers to medical doctors—to help meet those needs and then begins teaching BTC as a practical tool to facilitate everyday transactions, from buying bread to paying school fees. He told me that women—single mothers in particular—tend to most readily use bitcoin and teach others in their community how to use it, as well.

“Most of the leaders that I find in the small communities are women,” said Popescu. “We found a few ladies who I thought ‘Okay. Let me give them a tool they can use to survive [and pay for their] kids’ school.’ But these ladies realized the impact they can have on the lives of not only their family [members], but on the lives of others.

A few ladies go to other villages and talk about it. They save money and help children from other communities, which is not normal. In the jungle and the mountains, they [normally keep to] themselves.”

An Outsider’s Perspective On Bitcoin Usage in Peru

Paco de la India, a young man who traveled the world using bitcoin, spent some time in seven of these Peruvian circular BTC economies and said that bitcoin is having tangible effects on these communities.

“Let’s say a mother has gotten $5 [worth] of bitcoin. She’ll use $1 for sending her child to extra classes. If she wants [to take] some cooking classes, she’ll pay for that [in bitcoin]. If she wants to buy goods, stores in the neighborhood [accept] BTC. [Plus,] now these people are finally able to save money,” he told me in an interview.

He also noted that bitcoin is having intangible effects on these communities, as well.

“Using bitcoin has been able to preserve the culture of these people,” he added. “They [now] have some liberty to dream, which was just getting wiped away by the [traditional] financial system.”

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