Can Bitcoin Save the World?

Why Economically-Free Countries Are Embracing Bitcoin

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At the recent CoinAgenda conference in Las Vegas, Roger Ver made it clear why he believes that Bitcoin is not only as he says, “the most important invention in the history of the world since the internet”, but can also provide economic freedom to millions around the world.

Roger Ver has been a bitcoin evangelist for many years now and his enthusiasm for it has led to him being dubbed “Bitcoin Jesus.” Ver is not only the owner of Bitcoin.com (and other numerous Bitcoin related websites) but Ver has put his own money into some of the top startups in Bitcoin including Ripple, Shapeshift and Blockchain.

His recent presentation at CoinAgenda, reinforced that Ver is very serious about Bitcoin and the impact it can have on the world in general.

To Ver, Bitcoin is not just something that can change our financial systems, but for him, it’s something that can literally change and save the world. His presentation in Vegas was made from Skype (he’s had some issues in the past with entering the States in the past after he gave up his US citizenship), and he made an impassioned point that Bitcoin’s full impact on the world will be due to its ability to instill economic freedom upon countries and individuals who utilize it.

Economic Freedom

Ver opened his presentation by using not his words, but those of another Bitcoin evangelist, Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase who said that “Digital currency may be the most effective way the world have ever seen to increase economic freedom. If this happens, the implications are profound. It could lift many countries out of poverty, improve the lives of billions of people, and accelerate the pace of innovation in the world.”

What does economic freedom mean?

The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”

The Heritage Foundation, Ver and Armstrong all agree that with greater economic freedom comes increased prosperity for those living in those countries. The countries that are atop the Heritage Foundation’s ranking of most economically free countries include Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. Ver pointed out that these countries have been among the most open countries to embrace Bitcoin and blockchain technology.

Country Rankings

Australia, for instance, allows the mining, buying and selling of bitcoin in the country. The country's Taxation Authority has not only acknowledge the value of the digital currency, but has published guidance on the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies in that country. 

In Singapore, there have been many moves by the government to acknowledge and embrace the innovations that Bitcoin and the blockchain can bring. The Central Bank there has stepped up and proposed new rules for bitcoin startups. The managing director, Ravi Menon of the Bank expressed his support of Bitcoin when he said, "The potential benefits of such a distributed ledger system include: faster and more efficient processing; lower cost of operation; and greater resilience against system failure.” 

The US was high on the list and Ver was asked if he was concerned about the United States' current need to regulate and potentially impede the progress of blockchain innovation in the country.  Ver applauded that the United States holds a high position in the economic freedom rankings and highlights that there's "a huge amount of innovation going on" in the country. He also sees huge potential in the United Kingdom, which has been leading efforts that embrace Bitcoin and blockchain technology by streamlining the regulatory issues leading to wider acceptance in that country.

Benefits of Economic Freedom

Among the things that Ver pointed out in his presentation is that Bitcoin has had major impacts on a country's economic freedom through a number of factors:

  • It makes it easier to start a business
  • It enforces property rights
  • It promotes free trade
  • It enables freedom of contract
  • It enables people to opt out of corrupt systems

The ability for startups to attain funding through new options such as bitcoin and initial coin offerings, are becoming alternative methods to typical centralized funding options. These new methods open up more avenues for entrepreneurs and investors through the use of digital currencies.

Additionally, using blockchain technology and its permanent decentralized ledger for smart contracts allows people to enforce their contracts and property rights. With blockchain applications like Factom, the ability to secure a copyright or enforce a contract among two parties can be done in a low-cost decentralized manner without any government intervention.

Many countries are utilizing bitcoin as a lower cost and more easily accessible form of funds to conduct business and transfer funds. Countries with large populations of individuals who are "unbanked" and considered less desirable by large banks are finding lower cost methods to handle payments and remittances through the use of bitcoin. This has allowed for the empowerment of many people in less developed countries to conduct business and fund transfers on their terms.

Lessons From Venezuela

Ver's point of enabling people to opt out of corrupt systems has been seen in a country like Venezuela where many of its residents have dealt with the socialist government's staggering fiscal controls by embracing bitcoin on their own as a payment method among its people. The use of bitcoin in Venezuela has been a great example of how individual citizens and entrepreneurs can turn the incompetence of their government into an opportunity to help its citizens to take control of their own fiscal situation.

Although Ver acknowledges those countries atop the economic freedom rankings such as the United States with showing how openness and usage of blockchain technology and Bitcoin can enhance the prosperity of its people, he's also quick to point out that it would be a major positive, but not necessary for the US and those atop the list to be the sole leaders in this area.

An Economic Powerhouse

Ver believes that an opportunity exists for any size country that seeks to increase its economic freedom and raise the prosperity of its people. “It only takes one country to accept bitcoin and that country’s going to become an economic powerhouse,” Ver said. 

Ver holds out the hope that in this way, those countries that are low, or in the middle of the economic freedom list can potentially drive their own destiny, and those of their people by acknowledging the benefits of bitcoin and implementing country supported strategies and plans around it.

This would not only be good for their economic wellbeing, but as Ver correctly points out, “People who live in economic freedom countries just live longer.  

Want to be on Top or Bottom of the List?

When you realize that many of the countries with the most economic freedom, and thus prosperity, are those who are actively considering, accepting or evaluating Bitcoin, you recognize what Ver means when he says “which list would you like to be on?” Deciding whether to be one of those countries atop the list of economically free countries like Singapore, the US or UK, or those on the bottom of the list such as North Korea, Venezuela, Iran or the Congo is not a difficult decision to those living in a civilized society.

Perhaps one of these "cellar dwelling" countries could find themselves rising from being a repressed and depressed economy simply by using and embracing Bitcoin and blockchain technology. To get that to happen would likely take a miracle, but they do call Ver “Bitcoin Jesus” after all, and he does believe that with Bitcoin, anything is possible.