If you hold Bitcoin hoping its value will increase, you should consider investing it in human development. Bitcoin can help lift women out of poverty by eliminating the barriers to control over their economic lives. Bitcoin promises to overcome hurdles associated with traditional banking: high transaction fees, inaccessibility to capital and savings instruments, gender-based restrictions against holding accounts and currency instability. But around the world, impoverished women disproportionately lack access to tools essential to Bitcoin and mobile banking: mobile phones or computers and internet.
Studies show that improving women’s control over and access to money results in more rapid economic growth for their communities, reduces child mortality, and increases the amount of education their children receive, helping to break the cycle of poverty.
However, to even begin to fulfill its promise, Bitcoin needs to achieve price stability and become accessible to those who are currently outside traditional financial systems. Setting aside digital literacy and barriers to access, Bitcoin’s current price volatility makes it a poor choice for impoverished women unless they can tolerate risk of loss (alone, they can’t) or they can readily use Bitcoin in commerce through peer to peer transactions or low-cost conversion to local currency. These await development.
The first step to fulfilling Bitcoin’s promise for impoverished women would be to show how Bitcoin can connect women’s collectives to international markets through a comprehensive program that includes education, equipment, micro-loans and supportive partners. There are already many successful institutions and programs like Kiva.org that leverage the Internet and connect a worldwide network of micro-finance institutions.
The creative brilliance exhibited by the Bitcoin community can be put to better use than simply speculative investment in Bitcoin. We can create a Bitcoin ecosystem that reduces human suffering and benefits us all. What if people who already own Bitcoin put them to good use through micro-lending and investment in economies where women are already underserved? When Bitcoin are held in the hopes that their value increases, they sit outside the digital economy. Hoarding Bitcoin retards the development of a functional currency. Instead of simply holding Bitcoin, the Bitcoin community should create programs to grow the Bitcoin economy through investment in impoverished women.