What do Belgium, France, Italy, Greece and several other European countries have in common, other than proximity?
All are plagued with governments that seek out and punish those who make large purchases in cash. This forces people to either use banks against their preference, or live with the risk of punishment.
The states in both France and Belgium each forbid cash purchases in excess of €3000 (or US$3700). In Italy, the declared cash cap is even less—only €999 (US$1200). The Italian state even goes so far as to forbid people from paying their rent in cash altogether.
If all of this sounds a lot like a bank’s wet dream, that’s because it is. Just as the insurance companies in America rejoiced that “Obamacare” would force people to purchase their services, so too have European banks rejoiced for the same reason.
Aside from the fact that a person may not want to use a bank out of personal principle, banks are also rife with the following negative aspects:
- Slow transaction times, taking up to multiple days just to send one payment
- Limited hours and days of operation
- Fees and negative interest rates
- The threat of bail-ins
- The possibility of asset freezes
- Caps on daily withdrawal limits
- Invasive questioning upon attempts to close accounts
- Databases of personal information that get hacked and released
Given these facts, it’s not at all surprising that many people want nothing to do with banks. And until the advent of cryptocurrency, they didn’t have much of a choice. But now digital currencies like Bitcoin remedy every single bank drawback listed above:
- Bitcoin transactions register within seconds and clear within ten minutes
- Cryptocurrency is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week
- Fees are mere pennies
- No one can “bail in” your funds without your private key, which you can and should keep secret
- No one can freeze your funds
- There are no caps on daily spending—spend all or none of your bitcoins at any time
- There are no middle men to question you if you choose to sell off all your bitcoins (or “close” your account)
- No personal information is required to hold Bitcoin, so there’s no database to be hacked
And it’s not just Europeans who can rejoice over the freedom that comes from using cryptocurrency. People in America who live with the real threat of “roadside seizure,” which is when police steal their cash, will also benefit. The problem is so commonplace that the state in Canada even issued an official warning to Canadians traveling to America, telling them not to take a lot of cash because American police were likely to steal it.
It’s been mentioned that one of the most needy markets for cryptocurrency is remittances, where people are paying fistfuls of cash to Western Union and Money Gram to send funds to family overseas. Because most of the European states mentioned above began forbidding large cash transactions only this year, people living under this kind of buying oppression may soon have just as much need for cryptocurrency as those sending remittances.
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