Note: This blog is written by an external blogger. The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author.
Homelessness is a significant issue in India and around the world. According to Yale research, about 2% of the human population (or 150 million individuals) are now homeless. In India alone, more than 1.7 million people became homeless in 2020. Apart from the obvious concerns of safety and health, homelessness has the unintended consequence of isolating its victims from the wider society, particularly in the context of participation in the global economy.
These individuals are often unable to obtain employment due to the lack of a permanent residential address, and are often denied access to banking services. This means that homeless people may find it even more difficult to get out of their situation. While digital banking has benefited customers by making it easier to pay for goods and services, it often has a negative impact on the homeless population.
This is because most of the homeless persons depend on the money provided by the people on the streets. But with people holding less cash in the form of notes and coins, people experiencing homelessness now see little income from street donations. Now that cryptocurrency is well on its way to taking its place globally, what impact will it have on the global homeless population?
Banking the Bankless
One of the most distinctive features of cryptocurrencies is their borderless and inclusive nature. As long as a person has a computing device and an internet connection, they can participate in the crypto economy in some capacity. Typically, creating an account on an exchange or crypto wallet requires an email address, a phone number, and, depending on the country, some form of government-issued identification.
Many people experiencing homelessness, at least in metropolitan areas, may have mobile devices and access to public WiFi, allowing them to connect to the Internet. Additionally, cryptocurrency users can send and receive money directly, bypassing traditional middlemen, many of whom exclude large segments of the population.
Fintech has been credited with providing financial services to Brazil’s unbanked population, while HSBC has also allowed people suffering from homelessness to create bank accounts with them in the United Kingdom. The same can be achieved in India, and human rights advocates have argued that persons facing homelessness are human and no human should be restricted from economic participation.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies ensure that no one is left behind by providing a strong peer-to-peer network. The decentralized world of cryptocurrency is open to all, unlike centralized institutions such as banks, which base customers on income, education or background.
need for structure
Although the crypto-ecosystem is set up to accommodate all, homeless individuals need supportive institutions to support them. In some parts of India, homeless people often do not have access to basic technologies such as smartphones, which have become quite cheap and accessible in recent times.
To be able to take advantage of a decentralized economy, they must first be educated about these technologies, or just the basics, so that they can interact with the world of digital finance. Basic tech gadgets should also be made available first, which of course can be achieved by renewing the extra amount of mobile devices discarded every year.
Other approaches include contactless donation terminals such as those used in London. This invention makes it possible for travelers to use their bank cards to give to those in need in lieu of cash. These technologies, when merged with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, can be significantly more effective.
While the traditional banking system is slowly enabling these affected individuals to get involved, the crypto world allows them to be included from the start. After all, getting access to a smartphone is much simpler than obtaining permanent residence.
The issue of homelessness is complex and must be handled systematically. While the transition to cryptocurrencies would help engage disadvantaged populations in ways that the old system did not, it is not a panacea for the problem. Addressing this issue fully will require additional efforts, even as we strive for a more inclusive and equitable financial environment.
However, if we work together to help the underprivileged, nothing is impossible. Let us pledge to contribute to making the principles of financial freedom a reality with the power of crypto in our hands.
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