I recently listened to an interview of a pilot that was involved in the rescue of Afghani refugees during the USA’s withdrawal. This pilot was an Afghani native that lived in the US and when he learned that the US government would be using chartered planes to ferry refugees from Afghanistan into the US, he offered his services as a translator for the newly arriving refugees.
The details of the US withdrawal are a separate topic that we won’t get into here, but at the time, it was a case of controlled chaos. The interpreter did a great job of explaining what it was like for the poor folks getting on the plane. In three separate flights, he assisted in the evacuation of 1,002 refugees that ultimately made their way to the US. By now, you might be wondering what this could possibly have to do with cryptocurrency, but let us expand.
The people on those flights were leaving everything they know in hopes of a better life in the USA. Some had no idea where they were going, when they would get there, and they knew nobody in their new hometown. But the most striking thing was, because of the chaotic circumstances surrounding the withdrawal, refugees fled their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Get this, of the 1,002 people on those three flights, not one of them had carry-on luggage. Can you imagine leaving everything you ever knew for a new life in a strange land without so much as a suitcase?
But that is where we pick up our current point. Imagine if you were one of those 1,002 people who got on those planes. While the evacuation took place rather suddenly, the folks on the plane knew for a while that there was risk that the Taliban would be victorious. Therefore, if you had personal possessions in Afghanistan and you helped the Americans, your possessions and your life were at risk. Now let’s look at what your options in that situation would be.
Let’s assume your personal possessions were worth about $100,000 if you sold everything. Currently, your possessions included a car, home furnishings, a house, and a small amount of currency in a local bank. Suddenly, it is time to get on a plane and leave. Everything you left would be gone for good as the Taliban take over. What to do?
Remember, not one of the refugees had enough possessions to use the overhead compartments on the plane. That means nobody took their house, home furnishings, car, or their money with them on the plane. They left with nothing but the clothes on their back.
We feel for these refugees. Not only did they leave everyone they knew behind, but they also left all of their worldly possessions behind. They truly had to start over with nothing. Enter bitcoin.
If you put yourself in the shoes of those refugees and think long and hard what to do with your $100,000 of net worth, you will find that there are very few options at your disposal. Since you can’t take your house with you on the airplane, you either had to lose it, or sell it and do something with the money.
Those that left the home unsold lost the house. Those that sold the house and put the funds in their local bank do not have access to the funds. Those that attempted to carry large amounts of cash were in grave danger of being robbed or losing it enroute. In other words, there was no practical way for an evacuee to get their wealth across the border to a safer place.
But, with a little knowledge of how Bitcoin works, you could sell everything you own, use the proceeds to buy bitcoin that is stored in a digital wallet, memorize the key, and hop on the plane with everyone else. While you might not look any different than anyone else on the plane, you have a major advantage that they don’t have. While they gave up everything in their haste to exit alive, you stored your life’s possessions in the equivalent of a huge online piggy bank.
You can now fly anywhere in the world and upon getting settled, access your bitcoin, convert it to the new local currency, and resume life with the wealth that you’ve accumulated up to this point.
Now think carefully. Can you imagine any other asset that would offer that kind of secure portability? Let’s quickly look at different options… We already determined that it isn’t practical to haul your house and carry goods with you onto the airplane, so that’s out. Assuming you sold everything and have the money, let’s look at what you could do with it. If you put it in a savings account, the likelihood of the bank surviving a regime change intact is questionable at best. Even if it does survive, how are you going to access your money from a small bank in Afghanistan when you are in the US? They can’t very well give you American currency, and if the government was hostile against you, your accounts are likely frozen anyway.
One by one, you could look at different scenarios, and eventually you would conclude that the best way to move and preserve your wealth across borders is by storing it on the blockchain until it is needed at a later date. It's not perfect—doing so still exposes you to price risk—bitcoin isn’t exactly stable when it comes to pricing. At least you would have access to your wealth wherever you end up in the world.
Admittedly, this is an extreme example of why blockchain technology is useful. We understand it's unlikely anyone would have been able to sell a house in anticipation of a sudden evacuation. But, it is a very real example of how bitcoin has a unique spot in the financial system. The need for financial security and privacy is as important today as it has ever been, and bitcoin is rapidly earning its spot as a viable alternative to the banking system. Those of us in the west take for granted that we can access money anywhere in the world. We can get local cash from an ATM, can use our debit or credit cards in just about any shop or hotel, and our banks aren't going to lock their doors and stop answering the phone one night. That isn't a reality for a huge chunk of the world. Having the ability to transfer assets from one place to another, the way cryptocurrency can, could truly be life changing for some.
Although the evacuation from Afghanistan is a human story, it shines the light on useful features that the new digital world is just beginning to offer. Fiat currencies typically last a couple hundred years before they eventually become worthless. Cryptocurrency is only ten years old, and is still in its infancy. Crypto has established itself as a useful enough asset that it makes sense for most people to diversify into at least a little bit of exposure, yet very few people own cryptocurrencies compared to stocks or bonds. It is estimated that crypto currency ownership is only around 3.9% worldwide. While that is up huge from 0 not long ago, it is still a very low number compared to what we expect in the future.
It's an exciting time to be alive, as we get to see revolutionary changes take place at breakneck speed.
I've been trading and traveling my entire adult life. I'm currently trading from my boat in the Caribbean. Over the years this has gotten easier and easier to do. Drop the anchor, tether your phone to your laptop, browse some charts, and trade. At Wanderer we first began investing in Bitcoin in 2017 when it was worth $2,500. Fortunately, we recognized its potential, unfortunately, we didn't realize it even earlier. Today it is worth about $50,000, and we believe it is here to stay. Bitcoin will have its ups and downs along the way, but years from now we expect it will be much higher, and we'll still be bopping around in the islands.
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