How Cryptocurrencies Could Empower India’s Vulnerable

By Yasin Sebastian Qureshi

The global economy’s center of gravity inexorably shifts east to India, which is fast becoming one of the frontrunners among emerging markets. However, in spite the country’s rapid rise as one of the world’s fastest-growing economy, India’s poor remain excluded from taking advantage of these developments because they lack access to financial services. Cryptocurrencies, however, can address these issues and positively change the lives of vulnerable communities and boost India’s economic growth at the same time. Now is the time to tap into the full potential of blockchain technology and pull the trigger of financial inclusion.

Vulnerable people remain financially excluded

Recent data from the World Bank shows that 1.7 billion people do not have a bank account; that is 31% of the adult world population. At 190 million, India has the second largest unbanked population after China. These people have no or limited access to saving products, insurance, international markets and convenient payment methods. This means they have little understanding of how to participate in the global economy, which will eventually allow them to escape from poverty.

This is why financial inclusion is critical factor of economic growth and plays a major role in eroding India’s poverty. It enables to reduce the gap between rich and poor populations; can boost job creation, accelerate consumption. It can directly help vulnerable people manage risk and absorb financial shocks.

Block chain technology will change the course of events

Therefore, technological innovation within the financial industry is perhaps the most promising way to advance financial inclusion in India. Particularly, cryptocurrencies and its parent counterpart – blockchain disruption, which can overcome many of the traditional banking’s limitations. Fintech companies like The NAGA Group AG have developed mobile payment solutions that will bring cryptocurrencies to the mainstream masses, particularly to unbanked populations across the globe.

At NAGA, our publicly listed startup has put financial inclusion at the heart of its mission and works on innovations that will enable users to send and receive cryptocurrency payments via email and convert these into cash. We believe that no resource is truly scarce and that instead a world of abundance, is nothing more than a matter of accessibility.

Unlike banks, no physical branch presence is needed for blockchain to work. Since the technology operates on a distributed network, there’s no need for a complex, opaque and expensive private infrastructure to run. This saves on the costs that banks pass on to users through fees and other charges when using bank accounts or performing mobile transactions.

With mobile payment technology, suddenly financial services are available to anyone with a mobile phone at a fraction of the cost. We have developed The NAGA WALLET – a revolutionary cryptocurrency wallet that will give clients a fast and affordable way to access and manage crypto assets thanks to features such as instant, real-time transactions and up to 50% lower transaction fees when using the NAGA COIN – our own in-house-token. Plus, while most other wallets only support a few currencies, The NAGA WALLET supports five coins and more than 1,200 tokens.

Reduce remittance costs for Indian migrant workers

Financial technology is even more important in our current globalized world, where migration of people from one country to another for employment has become common practice. Especially, with almost 16 million people, India has the largest diaspora in the world. These workers are an economic boon for India’s economy, because they send money to their relatives and friends at home. In 2017, India remained the world’s top transfer recipient country, amounting to $69 billion.

The problem, however, is that the global remittance industry and money transfer operators charge high fees on money sent abroad. By doing so, they are cutting off a lifeline for the vulnerable people tackling socio-economic problems.

Cryptocurrency provides the solution, as it can improve the customer’s remittance experience by increasing the speed and crucially by reducing the transaction costs. Blockchain-based remittances have the potential to offer peer-to-peer payment transactions for a low, flat fee to people who put money in the hands of their loved ones. This in itself will boost India’s economy.

Financial educational is key to self-empowerment

However, the challenges still remain, as people and governments are often wary of new technologies promising big savings, and to many, cryptocurrencies still remain cryptic! At The NAGA Group AG we believe financial education is the key to self-empowerment. Through the support of governmental and business initiatives, we together can help people free themselves from financial illiteracy, ignorance and servitude. Full financial inclusion can only be realized through education.

Cryptocurrencies have been already paving the way for some African countries where the trend of entrepreneurship is emerging rapidly. India has also been quick to realise the potential of blockchain in good governance by setting up a Blockchain Centre of Excellence and inviting startups and experts to set up the country’s first blockchain state. Yet that’s just a stepping stone, as there is still a lot we haven’t harnessed from the full potential of blockchain technology, which can achieve equality, prosperity and economic growth. It’s time to change that!

Author: Yasin Sebastian Qureshi, Executive Director, The NAGA Group AG – financial technology ventures with innovative business models. Qureshi is the youngest person in Europe ever-to have obtained a banking license. He founded and ran his own investment bank, which went public in 2007. An investor in technology start-ups and film, he co-founded several charitable organizations. 

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