Afghanistan and its people are facing hugely difficult times at the moment. One of our BeInCrypto journalists interviewed a young local man (who will remain anonymous for obvious reasons). He is the sole income provider for his family of nine people, simply because he worked out how to be paid in crypto. Here is his story.
It all started with a vision. My friend and I wanted to make money from blogging. We had chosen a niche, everything was fixed, and all that remained was to figure out how we can get paid online. And to our surprise, this last step wasn’t as easy as we thought. In fact, it was impossible.
Banks in Afghanistan are very limited in terms of their financial services. Firstly, they don’t support popular payment transfer companies like PayPal or Venmo. They don’t even easily accept customers. In order to open a bank account, one should meet a strict set of obligations like providing a house deed and a working statement.
We do have wire transfer, Swift, and a local Hawala system but they don’t work in most cases. The more we learned about online payments, the more hopeless we became. But ignoring the financial side of things, we started our online journey.
We started our very first tech blog in 2018 but we could not get anything out of it; we just learned. Soon I made around $700 doing affiliate marketing but could not get paid because they needed PayPal and everything was lost.
The inevitable happened!
We slowly learned about crypto in 2020 which gave us hope again. By 2021, we were both working with a few crypto outlets that paid us in cryptocurrency. After so many unsuccessful attempts to get paid online, crypto gave me hope. Without digital currencies, I wouldn’t even be here.
In August 2021, the Taliban were in full control of Afghanistan and most of the transaction services including Western Union, Swift and Hawala stopped operating in the country. Nonetheless, most Afghans are still wondering how to send or receive money to/from other countries since 57% of around 40 million Afghans are illiterate.
Many fled the country and some even tried to sell their children for food. The widely used US dollar price rose from 77 Afghanis to 125 Afghanis and with it, the price of the basic goods necessary for life doubled. The former Afghan military of 300,000 soldiers was completely abandoned and women were sent home from their government jobs.
Crypto came to the rescue
My father’s English Academy, is where I learned English from the age of five. It is closed because some people don’t even have food to eat, so luxuries like language lessons are out. So presently, I’m the only one to put food on the table for my family of 9 and two cats, thanks to crypto outlets for paying me in digital currencies. Although I can’t withdraw my wages into my bank account, there is a simple process of changing crypto for fiat.
Firstly, there are local crypto dealers with small shops that accept cryptocurrencies. I send them them my digital assets and they’ll pay me in either USD or Afghanis. Luckily, the Taliban have not banned crypto yet. Many traders are hopeful that the government would use blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to avoid some international sanctions.
You might be wondering how or why the Taliban would ban crypto. In Islam, there is Halal (permissible) and Haram (forbidden) which would allow the Taliban to decide. If a qualified Muslim scholar announces cryptocurrencies as Haram with good reasons, the Taliban will ban it or tighten the grip for crypto trading. But if it’s announced as Halal, there won’t be any problem.
There is a lot of room for improvement in Afghanistan and I think the most important would be literacy. When talking about crypto, DeFi and blockchain, the most important step to go further is general literacy to at least give an idea of what going on. Governmental universities are still closed since the Taliban took over. Most families are worried about their children’s future.
Afghanistan: The crypto light
I can’t forget the day I saw the 2021 Crypto Adoption Index by Chainalysis; Afghanistan was ranked 20th in the world. I was like “dude, I must help in promoting cryptocurrencies to everyone in the world, starting with Afghanistan.”
I taught crypto trading to a few of my friends and one of my friends is also a crypto-journalist who gets his salary in cryptocurrencies. We are looking forward to creating a crypto outlet in Persian for our people since there is no standard crypto media company in Afghanistan. I believe blockchain technology can do a lot of good in building Afghanistan 2.0.
Some families received some money from their relatives abroad but without crypto, it’s almost impossible. I have been seeing a huge rise in crypto adoption in Herat — a province on the northwest side of Afghanistan — because people have no other choice. And let’s not forget, crypto transactions are much cheaper and more convenient than services like the Western Union.
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