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UN Paper Explores Bitcoin Potential For Underdeveloped Countries
A recent UN working paper seeks to address the unanswered question - whether Bitcoin can be harnessed to empower marginalized communities and build new means of solidarity-based finance.
Authored by Brett Scott, the paper, “How Can Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Play a Role in Building Social and Solidarity Finance?” considers the potential of bitcoin to be used as a tool of financial inclusion, looks at the attempts to design new cryptocurrencies based on explicitly cooperative and social justice principles and lastly, considers the emergent wave of “blockchain 2.0” innovation.
Given the current scenario, Scott describes bitcoin as a ‘digital token’ that can be moved between parties, which has market value in terms of major national and is sporadically used—although often in small amounts—in exchange for real world goods and services.
He noted that while bitcoin initially rose to prominence in advanced industrial nations like the US, several instances have emerged that suggest why it may be empowering for people in less developed countries:
Although the “technological novelty of blockchain systems is authentically exciting”, he points out an essay Visions of a Techno-Leviathan, that suggests that “people need to be protected from themselves by deferring responsibility to “trustless” technological platforms that will enforce contract-based relationships between atomistic individuals in an escape from community.”
Concluding his report, Scott says that the bitcoin and blockchain technology is still new, but there are potentially empowering uses in certain contexts.
“While the community around this technology is enthusiastic and experimental, it is still prone towards the elitist, tech-centric outlook of disruptive technology start-up culture”, he said. “A key role for SSF [social and solidarity finance] practitioners then, is to consider how blockchain technology could be implemented with sensitivity to the real struggles people face in implementing technology within diverse cultural and political contexts. One blockchain does not fit all.”