Oakland: Mayoral Candidate Thinks Bitcoin Will Combat Poverty

Bitcoin just got another vote of supportfrom the world of politics. Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker said that hebelieves the currency will ultimately help solve many of Oakland’s problems.

Parker is no stranger to the tech world: he worked as senior director offinance at the security firm iPass over a decade ago. He believes Bitcoin canbe used to tackle poverty and address crowdfunding as a way to increase financingfor civic development.

In an interview withSFGate, Parker elaborated on his vision of bitcoin challenging poverty inOakland:

“WhatI'm doing is engaging in the fight on poverty, which is a big, ambitious goal.What is one of the ways you get poor people into different habits? You startgetting them to save more, get them online. (Bitcoin) is a way of using moderntechnology that's helpful in doing that. If I have money in the bank, I haveembedded in the system a savings pattern because I have to go somewhere to getmoney. When you're operating on cash, all your cash is there and it's harder tokeep track of. We're reversing the paradigm here. I think (bitcoin) issomething we can do in combination with financial literacy to drivebetter behavior.”

Parker emphasized that introducing Bitcointo people will likely be a gradual process:  

“It'sjust like how you get people interested in the banking industry in general. Butpeople have had mistrust of banking. We go in and do education. We partner withorganizations that are in the community. And if you live in a bad neighborhood,you're not walking around with cash anymore. It's in your electronic wallet.”

The Oakland community would benefit greatlywith this new technology, Parker believes:

“Whatcan we do with the power of crowdsourcing to augment what we have? What peopleare saying right now is, “I’m paying taxes and I don’t feel like I am getting abang for the buck, so I have some level of mistrust.” So how do we earn thatback? Why don’t we get it directly to the project?”

The mayoral candidate’s come at a time whenBitcoin is looking to become more legitimized in the political arena. Just thisweek the Federal Economic Commission (FEC) began deliberatingon a request to allow political campaigns to accept donations in bitcoins startingin the 2014 midterm elections. The request, made by political action committeeMake Your Laws, includes the following terms:

  •           Contributions are limited to$100
  •           Donors must confirm they aredonating their own bitcoins
  •          Contributors provide name,address, occupation and employers

Deliberation by the FEC began on April 23,but the commission has asked for an extension until May 5. A FEC approval wouldbe a slam dunk for the Bitcoin community as it could greatly lower mistrust ofthe digital currency among the general population.

Meanwhile, Parker confirmed he has received “relatively few” bitcoin donations,all of which have been immediately converted into cash.