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A small Caribbean island, which has yet to be named, will soon become the largest Bitcoin community in the world.
A small Caribbean island, which has yet to be named, will soon become the largest Bitcoin community in the world. Each person in that country who has SMS texting capability, will soon receive a small quantity of Bitcoin. This will make the country the densest population of Bitcoin owners in the world. Many of these people are currently unbanked.
This ambitious plan is part of "Let The Bit Drop," a grand experiment set up by Coinapult and Aspen Assurance. In addition to giving every person in the country some Bitcoin currency, they are also throwing a huge island party for all of these new Bitcoiners. The organizers are currently seeking sponsors. The event is planned for sometime in late 2014, or the early part of 2015.
- Let The Bit Drop home page
Organizers say that tens of thousands of people who live on the island will be part of the new Bitcoin community. They plan a party to celebrate in true island style, with tropical drinks, fire dancers, and musical guests who support Bitcoin. There will be free giveaways during the party, as well as booths that provide information on how Bitcoin works, and how to use the digital wallets they just received.
Though the specific Caribbean nation has not yet been disclosed, the organizers say that the island's government is fully behind the plan. They also plan to use government channels to help distribute educational materials about Bitcoin before the party. Local businesses will be encouraged to begin accepting Bitcoin, and they even plan to set up Bitcoin ATMs on the island. One of the big questions for the experiment, according to the CEO of Coinapult, Ira Miller, is whether people will begin spending Bitcoin at local businesses, or using it to send money to each other. Miller stated:
“So one of the things we are curious about is how they are going to use it: will they start sending each other money, or spending it on local businesses?”
- Ira Miller, CEO of Coinapult
One of the most significant benefits of Bitcoin is that it could provide bank type services to the “unbanked” i.e. people who currently do not have accounts with any banks or financial institutions. There are billions of people in the world who are presently unbanked.
Coinapult is the company which has created the first SMS Bitcoin wallet. They say that this is a necessary step in making Bitcoin work for the unbanked people in the world, especially those that have no internet access. Miller said that other Bitcoin wallets let users send money to a cell phone, but when the recipient gets it, it opens a web browser. For people with no internet access, this is unusable, which is where the SMS approach will be useful.
Until now, Bitcoin has been primarily an internet-based technology. The people who use it are heavy internet users, and most developments have been focused on shopping outlets that enable people to buy electronics or other goods online using bitcoins. Miller adds:
“There are a lot of Bitcoin wallets where you can send money to cell phones, and when they open it up, it goes to a web browser, but if they don’t have internet access, how could they use it? There are a few others that now offer the SMS approach.” [...] Up to the present day, Bitcoin has been mostly internet technology, so you have to have access to the internet — and not only in a computer lab once a week in your village. You have to most likely use it every day and really be deeply into the internet.”
Miller said that the real advantages of bitcoins have been overlooked. His company seeks to make Bitcoin tools more accessible to a broader audience, bringing the advantages of saving, accessing, and transferring funds to people who are currently unbanked. He said that they want to reach out to the community of people who have the greatest need for what Bitcoin offers, and "Let The Bit Drop" is a big step in that direction.
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