On the 15th of August, 2021, the world stood stupefied, as the Taliban rapidly advanced across the country, after having captured Kabul. Soon the tri-coloured Afghan flag was replaced by the monochromatic banner of the Taliban.

Banks had to pull down their shutters, and ATMs went empty within the blink of an eye. Cryptocurrency came to the rescue.

Nationwide Bank Closure

After America’s 20-year war came to an end, the Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. The people, in sheer panic, ran to the banks to scramble for cash, only to find them locked with their money inside. 

As the banks remained closed, the helpless people who did not know what to do were seen at airports by the rest of the world. Afghanistan is a country that has not been familiarised with cryptocurrency, and for this reason, many Bitcoin advocates believe that the entire situation could have been avoided had more people used cryptocurrency.

Dr Josh Cotton, a Bitcoin advocate and founder of defunct MilitaryToken, said in a tweet that “an enormous amount of cash just fell into the hands of the Taliban because cash can’t be truly secured,” adding of course, “Bitcoin fixes this.” 

Afghanistan is a country that relies on physical cash, and crypto traders understood that it was not easy to either trade Bitcoins in Afghanistan or make people aware of its importance. However, with banks closed, the people did realise how much safer it is to be in control of their own money.

Afghan people line up outside AZIZI Bank to take out cash as the Bank suffers amid money crises in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 15, 2021. Haroon Sabawoon | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images “There’s no bank I
Afghan people line up outside AZIZI Bank to take out cash as the Bank suffers amid money crises in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 15, 2021.

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Crypto To The Rescue

As seen in other places, such as Lebanon and Palestine, which are shredded by political instability, people have found refuge in cryptocurrency. During a war, everything is increasingly uncertain. Being in control of one’s own money is the safest thing to do. 

After stories surfaced of how those who were trading in cryptocurrency were able to escape from the Taliban-occupied Afghanistan, people started paying more attention to it. Google Trends data shows that web searches in Afghanistan for “bitcoin” and “crypto” have been rising since the month of July. 

Bitcoin adoption in Afghanistan has sky rocketed in 2021 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Bitcoin adoption in Afghanistan has skyrocketed in 2021

New research from blockchain data firm Chainalysis shows that the peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto network is increasing in the country. P2P is a method that enables users to buy and sell their coins directly with other users.

According to CNBC’s Mackenzie Sigalos, “Chainalysis’ 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index gives Afghanistan a rank of 20 out of the 154 countries it evaluated in terms of overall crypto adoption. And when you isolate for its P2P exchange trade volume, Afghanistan jumps up to the seventh place. That’s a big move in just 12 months: Last year, Chainalysis considered Afghanistan’s crypto presence to be so minimal as to entirely exclude it from its 2020 ranking.”

Nonprofits who are assisting about 20,000 Afghan citizens who are waiting for the US to process their special immigrant visas are now accepting cryptocurrency, in order to raise funds to relocate Afghan families.

Johnathan Morales, a Venezuela based cryptocurrency consultant opined, “Many people are mining and trading Bitcoin not to acquire products, but to protect themselves from hyperinflation.” 

Venezuela has been a place that has faced hyperinflation for years. Right now, its Government is doing everything it can to save the currency.

Hyperinflation can indeed be another nightmare that awaits Afghanistan because a Bloomberg report proved that as the Taliban captured Kabul, the country’s currency dropped to an all-time low. And the only method to fight hyperinflation is digital wallets or cryptocurrency.

Man hoisting Afghan flag amid Taliban capture

Hopeful Future

As the Taliban continues scrambling for power, cryptocurrency allows Afghans the privilege to hope. Learning from Lebanon and Palestine, where even the smallest of businesses now accept payment in Bitcoin, Afghans are also more aware of the importance of crypto for the sustainability of their lives during dire situations such as this. 

Cardano’s founder, Charles Hoskinson, on the 2nd of September, said in an interview that crypto will help Afghanistan’s citizens. Hoskinson, who also co-founded Ethereum, refrained from explaining how but noted that crypto was already “in Afghanistan.” We have more than enough data to paint a rough idea about how exactly cryptocurrency is going to help the Afghans in the coming days.

Cryptocurrency is proving to be the lifeline for millions of Afghans, as millions more begin to have a digital wallet. With utmost conviction, it may be stated that there is hope. And where there is hope, there is a way.

Image Sources: Google Images

Sources: News18, Cointelegraph, BBC

Connect with the Blogger: Debanjan Dasgupta

This post is tagged under: crypto, cryptocurrency, digital wallet, Afghanistan, Taliban, bitcoin, Kabul, Afghanistan bitcoin, crypto Afghanistan, War on Terror, Muslim people, Islamophobia, Hyperinflation, Stock Markets in Afghanistan

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