Somewhere over a toilet in Venezuela a sign reads “please do not flush clothing, hygiene products, or Venezuelan currency”. That’s right, the bolívar is so utterly worthless it can function as a tool to– well, we all know.
Inflation sucks. No doubt about it. Not only that, currencies backed by terribly corrupt governments are made worthless by every way a currency can be violated: hyper-inflation, instability, graft; you name it, they got it. That includes places like Laos, Paraguay, Zimbabwe and Nigeria -home of the Naira.
Without monetary tools to facilitate honest markets, desperate stomachs turn to something new. Sure, dollars and British pounds have value nearly everywhere but those bills aren’t always available in the dark alleys of Lagos and other Banana Republics. People in developing countries have turned to something new: bitcoin. No more trying to buy bread with toilet paper.
Bitcoin doesn’t stop there either. The cryptocurrency is playing a major role in ending corruption, a hallmark of low income countries. Corrupt governments can’t steal what they can’t see. Crypto currencies held in virtual wallets are harder to steal in a township, or by a corrupt government.
Personally, if I knew our president was hiding millions of dollars from the public, not paying taxes on them, selling overpriced services to the government via one of his shell companies… Wait, bad example, but you get the idea.
Those in impoverished countries feel hopeless and desperate. Desperation leads to violent actions. A lot of conflict could be avoided if crypto currencies made blue-collar graft harder to pull off.
That said, crypto also makes it easier for corrupt governments to transfer and hide their assets. Harder to fleece the little guy, but easier to hide their loot from the global financial police. It is a double edged sword.
There are also tax consequences. Bitcoin is changing the political and economic climate of countries around the world. No more easy to audit money trails for tax purposes, small business owners can hide their income from corrupt tax officials using digital wallets. This adjustment to national tax collection in failed states will undoubtedly put more pressure on corrupt governments to find alternative ways to collect revenue, pressuring non-crypto users to pay more in taxes and, thus, accelerating the shift to crypto as more try to avoid this fate.
So what does this mean to the US bitcoin investor? It means that as digital wallets spread in developing countries, more demand for cryptocurrencies is in our future. Demand not driven by drug dealers and embezzlers using it to conceal their ill gotten gains, but by honest people trying to keep their governments honest too.