People my age (millennials) are considered the laziest. Don’t get me wrong, but who wants to stand on the queue or physically go to the bank for financial transactions. The millennials have heard of stories of how life used to be hard back then. From having phone booths with long lines of people waiting for their turn or how a handful had bank accounts. Times have changed thanks to technology, now we have social media platforms that connect us with a touch on the screen and banking applications on our smartphones. Few years ago you needed to go to the bank to physically do financial transaction. Then came the automatic teller machine (ATM) that use ATM cards. Mobile money followed. Kenyans are well aware of mobile money as most of them are users.
What if I told you that you didn’t need any trusted third party like banks or communication companies to do your financial transactions? Yes, it is possible, thanks to technology again. Am talking about cryptocurrency. Since the announcement of Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, a lot of controversies and stories have been told about the online currency and how it will shake the banking and financial industry. We’ve seen the banks warning the people against it, we’ve also seen big companies like Facebook having a soft spot for it.
Just by the mention of the word cryptocurrency a majority of people think it’s a complicated subject that is only meant for computer scientists. It is not. Most people use WhatsApp or Instagram (for the millennials) almost daily. Both of these are applications that use the Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) to enable communication. Technological advancement has led to a new application which is cryptocurrency that also uses a new protocol known as the Blockchain Protocol which is also referred to as Money Over the Internet Protocol (MOIP). Bitcoin was the first Blockchain created that enables money over the internet.
Cryptocurrency is therefore digital money. Billions of dollars are invested in technology every year with the sole purpose of making life easier and better. However, just like any other disruptive technology, cryptocurrency will eliminate some of the already established institutions like banks which I mentioned earlier. Unlike the traditional method of moving money, cryptocurrency removes the element of the middleman. It is a peer-peer kind of transaction where for instance one sends money from the Canada to a relative in Kenya, the transaction is only between the two of them. No need to send money through the bank. It therefore plays two roles: the money itself and the sending system as well. This means it’s a decentralized kind of digital money where the banks have zero control over your money thus making cryptocurrency very powerful.
Sub-Saharan countries in general are very poor. Poverty has a direct impact on health. These countries are some of the most underdeveloped and ironically richest in natural resources. Ustawi Biomedical Research Innovation and Industrial Center of Africa (UBRICA) a project based in Kenya has adopted the blockchain technology and created with the Ubricoin (UBN) which is a cryptocurrency in itself. With this currency Ubrica intends to take healthcare to the next level not just in Kenya but globally. The project identified three aspects of healthcare to tackle: lack of access to care, poor quality of healthcare and the high cost of healthcare. Health is a global phenomenon where people seek health services across borders, UBN being without borders means one can pay for quality healthcare anywhere in the world.
You are probably asking yourself where this money is coming from, well my next blog will tell you where!
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