TL;DR Libya is a cash-only society, where every merchant only deals in cash. There is no electronic banking system of debit cards, credit cards, or Interac machines — just cash. But the banks ran out of cash. So, people can’t buy anything because they can’t access their funds because, remember, banks ran out of cash. Bitcoin would seem to solve every problem. How do we get Bitcoin into Libya?
First of all, full disclosure, I know very little about Bitcoin, or cryptocurrency in general, so as I make this post, please forgive any ignorance.
As a Libyan, we’re seeing numerous challenges in our banking system in Libya (which, in all fairness, is just one of, many other, larger political issues if you happen to have been following Middle Eastern/Libyan news for the last decade).
The Central Bank of Libya has not had cash for an exceedingly long period of time, post 2011, which is problematic because Libya is a cash-only society. Every transaction, be it a house, or a loaf of bread, has always ever been transacted in cash only. While people do have bank accounts, with your account balance merely printed on paper, there has never been debit or credit cards in Libya. The only way one can access their funds from their bank account is by physically going to the bank and withdrawing cash. This is still the case today and, as you might have imagined, people have already long flooded the banks, and have depleted them of their reserves.
Consequently, the majority of Libyans have no access to their money in their accounts, and have only been at the mercy of when banks re-supply their reserves. In an attempt at maximizing the opportunity at every Libyan getting *some* cash, of course the bank imposes a depressingly low withdraw limit per person, who are all waiting in line-ups that are literally days long. Naturally, the bank’s small reserve is instantaneously depleted, again and again, and if you were not of the lucky few to retrieve cash, then you go home with your tail between your legs and hope for a better next time.
The obvious solution to this would have been for the “government” to simply deploy an electronic system wherein Libya catches up to 21st century’s earth-shattering technology: debit and credit cards, and Interac machines! Needless to say, this has not been done, yet, and we can very strongly assume that the “government” has no interest in doing this. I will not get into politics, or conspiracy here, but much of it leans in that direction. (Note: I put “government” in quotes because what I really mean is Libya doesn’t exactly have a government, and the decision-makers are, essentially, foreign intelligence via domestic militia groups).
With all of that said, enter Bitcoin and my questions to the problems I wish to ask and wonder if Bitcoin solves:
(1) The first problem we have, of course, is that people are limited to cash to purchase food. However, if every merchant simply accepted Bitcoin, people can simply pay with their phones, without the need for cash. Everybody, and their grandmother, has a smartphone or two. Am I missing something here, or am I correct with the ease of use?
(2) The second problem we have is that nobody in Libya can be transferred money, from outside of Libya, even if Libyans had international friends and family willing to help them with money. But, with Bitcoin, you can simply transfer funds online with relative ease. Am I correct here, as well?
(3) I have no idea whether or not Bitcoin is currently available in Libya; furthermore, I have no idea whether or not Bitcoin is legal in Libya (and, frankly, if the aforementioned problems can be solved, nobody will care about its “legality”). So, can Bitcoin be adopted in Libya, with relative ease, without necessitating the banking system or government? Or would this undertaking be a major project?
If possible, I would be very interested in working with anyone who can help make this a reality in all of Libya. I’m willing to do what’s needed to be done (within my capabilities, of course), be it aggressive marketing/advertising, or otherwise. Thoughts, suggestions, help!
Thank you everyone for your help and for putting up with my rant. Cheers.