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So rapid has the full-scale implementation of bona fide Bitcoin infrastructure been in financially stable and developed nations such as Switzerland and the United States recently, that it has become clear that virtual currency is heading toward the mainstream and is not destined to remain a peripheral entity.
In the less developed world, however, things are somewhat different – Bitcoin proponency has been predominantly among users and miners, as it is seen as the savior of populations which are encumbered with poor economical situations and ill-organized despotic governments.
The latest development in this direction his today’s unveiling of the first ever Bitcoin exchange in Pakistan, which goes into service under the name of Urdubit, Urdu being the national language of Pakistan.
Unlike neighboring India, Pakistan’s economy has not benefitted from trade partnerships and stable relations with Western nations, therefore whilst India’s high technology and customer services sector has grown tremendously, giving rise to the full modernization of cities such as Bangalore, Pakistan is home to a less liberalized financial system, with enduring poverty prevalent across the entire nation.
For this reason, Urdubit is poised to bring liquidity to local Bitcoin trading markets and be present as an advocacy for the decentralized commodity.
Upon its launch, Urdubit’s fouding partner Danyal Manzar explained to Coindesk “When we started out educating people about the block chain and how it can be used as a payment gateway we found many people mining bitcoins who did not have any medium to trade them directly into Pakistani rupees.”
One of the main considerations which distinguishes Pakistan from other Indian Subcontinental nations is the implications in doing business which are brought about due to the nation’s rulings being heavily influenced by Islamic guidelines.
About 96% of Pakistanis are Muslim. An estimated 21% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the country has a total adult literacy rate of 55%. “We plan to create a platform where people feel safe with the world of bitcoin and hopefully substitute it for trading locally as easily as Pakistani rupees, while giving everyone an opportunity to invest in this commodity,” stated co-founder Zain Tariq said.
This entire notion echoes that of Bitcoin Foundation director Jon Matonis who last week stated that due to a substantial part of the world’s population being without banking facilities, especially in regions outside of the Western world, Bitcoin could indeed become a commodity which is easy to access and transfer cross-border, thus being a modern alternative to gold, a traditional commodity which is the darling of those whose trust in the geopolitical stability of their home nations is scant, as well as providing a means of removing the restrictions on doing business abroad due to lack of merchant services availability.
In particular, Mr. Manzar maintains that Pakistan’s geography makes it poised for a successful bitcoin economy. It borders two of the world’s fastest growing markets, India and China, with China being one of its largest trading partners.
Chinese importers and exporters would benefit from an exchange that allows instant trades and payments in bitcoin without having to worry about dollars, he added, alluding to the country’s record-low trade deficit and hence depleted dollar Mr. Manzar added that “We have to be dependent on loans from the IMF, Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Bitcoin can open the path for Pakistan to bypass dollar-only trade barriers.”
Indeed, the road to financial freedom and access to the international markets for many is increasingly looking like a virtual one.