On the international scene, Bitcoin is setto make great strides – but keeping up with all of the developments worldwidecan be a tricky business. Here is a round-up of what is going on with Bitcoinworldwide:
As per our article yesterdayon Bitcoin influencing the currency exchange scene in Argentina, several othercountries are embracing the digital currency as a means of tackling theireconomic problems, both long and short term.
As Motherboard reports,certain developing economies currently under severe pressure not only appear muchsuited to widespread Bitcoin adoption, but are also displaying signs that thismay be happening, albeit somewhat behind the scenes.
A notable example of particularly rapidadvances in Bitcoin infrastructure is that of Kenya’s payment processingnetwork. Data from the World Bank shows that 93% of Kenyans have a mobile phone,and this is a contributing factor to the ubiquity of mobile payments in theKenyan market.
Out of a population of 44 million, thereare currently around18 million users of the main processing company MPESA,compared with only 10 million bank account holders.
Bitcoin’s opportunity here lies in taking ashare of the market from money transfer outfits, due to Kenya “being a hub of international remittances,”Motherboard reports. Due to the infiltration of mobile payments, companies likeKipochi and BitPesa are already allowing users to transfer BTC via MPesa’snetwork.
Inflationin India and Venezuela create opportunity
Likewise, India’s remittance culture makesit a logical candidate for widespread adoption of Bitcoin. BBC News reportsthat India topped the global list for remittance money destinations in 2012with over US$70 billion entering the country from workers abroad.
And while mobile payment networks are not aspecifically common feature of the Indian economic landscape, the recentweakening of the rupee will be causing many mid-range consumers to be seekingan alternative to money transfer companies in order to limit losses.
The rupee’s inflation rate is nothing tothat of Venezuelan bolivar, however, which for 2013 was over 50% and created anurgent need for consumers to seek alternatives. The Venezuelan government evenlaunched its own digital currency in 2010; intended for international tradingwith the country’s neighbours as an alternative to US dollar, the sucre was modestlysuccessful with Ecuador exporting $737 million of goods to Venezuela in thefirst three quarters of last year.
However, for consumers, the development didnot represent an alternative storage of value, which Bitcoin, despite recentvolatility, is already offering elsewhere.
Ukraineconflict & luxury of choice
As a pertinent example for many in Europe,the role of digital currency in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict cannot beunderestimated.
Motherboard reports over $10,000 in BTC andother cryptocurrencies being donated in response to a developer’s cause to helpfund the Maidan movement.
It is in the immediate future, however,that Bitcoin may well come into its own in the area, both Ukraine and Crimea.In February, Ukraine moved to regulate cryptocurrencies at a local level, butthere can hardly be any doubt that regulation for the short term, while thecountry is destabilizing, will have less bite than otherwise planned.
“Itis only cash or electronic money like Webmoney, Yandex Money, etc. [that peoplecan use in Criema],” Michael Chobanian, the man behind the Kuna BitcoinAgency, said in an interview with Cointelegraph, “These payment systems are centralized andcontrolled by Russian authorities hence they can be blocked at any time.Furthermore no Western companies accept them. So Bitcoin is the only solution.”