Palestinians Embrace Virtual Currencies to Send and Receive Money
Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have been helping Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to be integrated to the financial world.
According to Ahmed Ismail, a financial analyst located in Gaza, said that there are 20 ‘exchange’ offices that work with virtual currencies. At the moment, he helps 30 different clients to use bitcoin and purchase stocks, and invest in other assets.
One of the currency dealers in the city said that in the last years, he helped an important number of families to deal with virtual currencies and shop abroad. He has also said that Palestinian banks do not work properly and that Bitcoin (BTC) is the solution to deal with that problem.
Blockchain allows palestinians to avoid censorship. As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are censorship-resistant, it is possible to process transactions without problems. In this way, they are able to be connected to the global economy amid a growing conflict with Israel.
Laith Kassis, CEO of Palestine Techno Park, commented:
“There is no payment gateway, like PayPal, for entrepreneurs to receive payments internationally. So here comes solutions on blockchain with private nodes.”
However, there is no way for palestinians to have fiat currencies in their pockets after receiving virtual currencies. That means that they need to deal with dealers as liquidity gateways, which is not the best solution.
And because of this situation, there are some individuals that believe that Bitcoin is no able to help people in need. Ammous, a professor of economics at the Lebanese American University said that Bitcoin would never be a solution if those transaction do not have balances in BTC.
Although Bitcoin can be useful for international payments and transactions, it does not solve day to day issues such as small payments. Nowadays, almost 20% of Palestinians live below the poverty line, settled at $5.5 a day.
Kassis’ Techno Park hosted the first blockchain boot camp at the beginning of September. Different individuals participated from it, including students, entrepreneurs and government officials. After the five-day technical boot camp, they were already developing different applications.
Kassis believes that these kinds of programs could help the local communities and enhance the financial landscape.