Afghanistan is preparing for an uncertain future as the U.S. and its allies scramble to evacuate the Taliban-controlled country by August 31. Amid a cash shortage, a rapidly devaluing currency, and dramatically rising prices of basic goods, crypto is helping some citizens protect whatever wealth they have left, facilitating the distribution of humanitarian aid to refugees, and providing some hope for those remaining in the country.
- Afghanistan now ranks among the top 20 countries for global crypto adoption. A report from Chain lysis released last week listed the country 20th in its weighted index, which was based on three metrics: Total crypto activity, trading activity of non-professional users, and peer-to-peer exchange trade volume. In last year’s report, Afghanistan’s crypto activity didn’t even crack the top 150.
- Crypto has helped donations flow to refugees. With tens of thousands of Afghans seeking to flee the Taliban regime, nonprofits have been raising funds in crypto to relocate families and to provide emergency aid to those who have been displaced. In one example, a series of NFTs released by consulting firm founder Jack Butcher has raised more than $135,000, with the proceeds going directly to the humanitarian organization CARE.
- Some Afghans see Bitcoin as crucial to their future there. Farhan Hotak, a 22-year-old living in the rural region of Zabul parked some of his money in crypto to protect it from economic instability. Bitcoin advocate Janey Gak wants the country to adopt a Bitcoin standard to reduce its reliance on central banking. She’s paying Afghans in donated BTC to translate crypto-related educational materials into Dari, one of the country’s official languages, and hopes to open her own bitcoin exchange in Kabul.
I have decided to look into opening my own #Bitcoin exchange (sarafi) shop in Kabul. If you are experienced in this and can provide guidance please reach out.
— bibi janey (@janeygak) August 20, 2021
Why it matters… The burgeoning cryptoeconomy in Afghanistan has given some citizens a degree of protection from volatility in the country’s fiat currency, highlighting Bitcoin’s utility as a store of value and crypto’s usefulness for cross-border transactions. With most Afghans under age 25 and in possession of a cell phone, grassroots crypto adoption could accelerate as more tech savvy citizens learn about the potential of digital currencies.