Palestinians are Sending Money Across Border Using Bitcoin
In the disputed region of Gaza and the West Bank, Bitcoin is seen as a glimmer of hope to the Palestinian People who have started using cryptocurrencies to make investments outside of the war-torn region. Ahmed Ismail, a Gaza-based financial analyst estimates there to be at least ” 20 unofficial exchanges ” that provide transactional services to the purchase stocks overseas.
Mohammad, a currency dealer in Gaza also claims to have helped over 50 families buy $500 worth of Bitcoin every month for the past 4 years.
“Bitcoin, in their opinion, is cheaper, safer, and quicker,” he said. Nothing works with Palestinian banks. Bitcoin wallets are alternative banks.”
With no official crypto exchanges in the region, locals solely rely on dealers to perform the crypto transactions who are taking advantage of the system by making it difficult to get a fair price. A Palestinian tech worker to Coindesk said she failed to cash out her BTC with fair fiat rate a while ago when crypto prices were on a high.
On a positive note, Palestinians don’t suffer from the hyperinflation that has the driven countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Turkey to stockpile the limited supply of cryptocurrency. This is made possible because Palestine doesn’t have a national currency and instead relies on foreign currencies which have remained stable.
Why is Palestine huge on Bitcoin 🇵🇸
The region has been isolated from the global economy amidst the ongoing conflict and many have had their bank accounts shut down restricting their access even further. Bitcoin is helping the region conduct peer-to-peer transactions and once paid, it can’t be vetoed by intermediaries which play a crucial role in building trust in the system.
In a statement to Coindesk by Laith Kassis, CEO of the nonprofit Palestine Techno Park in the West Bank
“There is no payment gateway, like PayPal, for entrepreneurs to receive payments internationally, So here comes solutions on blockchain with private nodes.”
However, due to power outages, Bitcoin can’t be the sole savior and additional assistance is desperately needed.
Sustainability is still a Distant Dream
A Palestinian-born professor of economics at the Lebanese American University, Saifdean Ammous expressed his dismay on the claims that cryptocurrencies can be the solution to all the problems to the region.
“If the people who want to do the transaction don’t both have balances in bitcoin then you’re just adding extra layers of conversion from their home currency to bitcoin and back to the home currency. That’s never going to be a sustainable solution.” – Saifdean Ammous
Kassis, a tech industry player in Palestine, is attempting a different approach by organizing crypto hackathons later this year, following a successful 5-days blockchain boot camp in the start of September. Regular blockchain seminars were also conducted across many universities across the West Bank.
“It’s all about bringing awareness and creating new markets,” Kassis said.
Wars are the worst enemy to economic welfare and it’s always the general population that suffers from political instability. We hope peace is restored to this region and cryptocurrencies can help rebuild this region.
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