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Homelessness is a significant issue both in India and around the globe. According to Yale research, around 2% of the human population (or 150 million individuals) are now homeless. In India, more than 1.7 million people were reported homeless in 2020 alone. Aside from the obvious concerns of security and health, homelessness has the unintended consequence of isolating its victims from broader society, particularly in terms of participation in the global economy.
These individuals are often unable to obtain employment owing to the lack of a permanent residential address, and they are also frequently denied access to banking services. This means that homeless people may have an even more difficult time getting out of their position. While digital banking has benefited customers by making it simpler to pay for goods and services, it often has a negative impact on the homeless population.
This is because most homeless individuals rely on money provided to them by people on the streets. But with people carrying less cash in the form of notes and coins, people experiencing homelessness now see much less income from street donations. Now that cryptocurrency is well on its way to taking its place on the world stage, what effects will it have on the global homeless population?
Banking the Bankless
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of cryptocurrencies is their borderless and inclusive nature. As long as a person possesses a computing device and internet connection, they may participate in some capacity in the crypto economy. Typically, all that is required to create an account on an exchange or a crypto wallet is an email address, a phone number, and, depending on the country, some form of government-issued identification.
Many people experiencing homelessness, at least in metropolitan areas, can have access to a mobile device and public WiFi, enabling them to connect to the internet. Additionally, cryptocurrency users may send and receive money directly, bypassing conventional intermediaries, many of which exclude huge portions of the population.
Fintech has been credited for providing financial services to Brazil’s unbanked population, while HSBC has also allowed those suffering due to homelessness to create bank accounts with them in the United Kingdom. The same can be achieved in India as well, and Human rights advocates have argued that individuals facing homelessness are human and that no human should be barred from economic participation.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies ensure that no one is left behind by providing robust peer-to-peer networks. The decentralized world of cryptocurrency is open to everybody, as opposed to centralized institutions like banks, which base clients on income, education, or background.
The Need for Structure
Though the crypto-ecosystem is set up to accommodate everyone, homeless individuals require supportive institutions in place to aid them. In some parts of India, homeless people often don’t have access to basic technologies like smartphones, which have become significantly cheap and accessible in recent times.
For everyone to be able to leverage a decentralized economy, they must first be educated about these technologies, or just the basics, for them to be able to interact with the world of digital finance. Basic technological gadgets must also be made available first, which is definitely achievable by refurbishing the excess amounts of mobile devices that are discarded every year.
Other approaches include contactless donation terminals such as those used in London. This invention makes it possible for commuters to use their bank cards in lieu of cash to give to people in need. These technologies, when merged with blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies, can be significantly more effective.
While the traditional banking system is gradually enabling these affected individuals to be involved, the crypto world allows them to be included right from the start. After all, gaining access to a smartphone is considerably simpler than obtaining a permanent residence.
The issue of homelessness is complicated and must be handled systemically. Although the shift to cryptocurrencies will assist in incorporating disadvantaged populations in ways that the old system did not, it is not a panacea for the problem. Additional efforts will be required to confront the issue squarely, even as we strive for a more inclusive and equal financial environment.
However, if we work together to aid the disadvantaged, nothing is impossible. Let us pledge to contribute to making the principles of financial freedom a reality with the power of crypto in our hands.
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