Bitcoins and Financial Inclusion: Not Much of a Link for Now
Monday, January 27, 2014
“What is a Bitcoin?” If you are asking yourself this question, you are not alone. Turns out the question made it into the Top 10 list of most-searched-for phrases on Google in the“What is” category in 2013. With all of the hype surrounding Bitcoin, policymakers and regulators around the world are trying to figure out the pros and cons of this type of new virtual currency. We’re asking similar questions in the development community, where electronic money services such as Kenya’s M-PESA are making huge strides in reaching people who have not had access to formal financial services.
Beyond being digital, what does Bitcoin have in common with electronic money and financial inclusion generally? At this point, there seem to be more differences than similarities and it’s important not to conflate electronic money with the virtual currency.