People of Afghanistan are living a nightmare, and crypto can help survive it.
Exactly 5 months ago the US completed the withdrawal of its armed forces from Afghanistan, after 20-year-long efforts to maintain a friendly government and train its domestic military. Sadly, not only the efforts were notoriously vain, their ending was so abrupt it spiked a wave of indignation all over the world.
It all happened so quickly that Afghanistan found itself isolated and impoverished overnight: Afghan Central Bank’s assets seized, SWIFT services suspended, and of course foreign funding of the budget (80% !) stopped abruptly. Afghan banks either stopped or limited cash withdrawals, and many personal accounts have been seized by the Talibans. Lack of liquidity stopped the economy and plunged the country in a deep crisis.
? A true humanitarian tragedy is now unfolding in Afghanistan. Out of 40 million Afghans 23 million are considered by the UN to suffer from extreme levels of hunger, and over 1 million children face an immediate risk of death by starvation, according to the UNICEF.
Usually in situations like this humanitarian NGOs step in and try to help people survive. This is a difficult task in Afghanistan, though, which is effectively cut from the world by the sanctions against the Talibans. Humanitarian aid is officially exempted, but effectively it is very difficult to get it through: sanctions language is broad and many banks block routine transactions because they conclude that any tax or duty paid to the government could risk violating sanctions.
? Facing reluctant banks, more and more NGOs are turning their eyes to crypto.
Code to Inspire shows a good example of what can be done. Founded initially as a programming school for the Afghan girls, Code to Inspire has become a relief organization: hunger is the most important thing to combat now. The charity teamed up with Binance that agreed to sponsor 3 months of cash assistance to its students, sent in the form of stablecoins. Local exchanges in Afghanistan then help convert crypto into afghanis or dollars.
Other crypto charities, like Crypto for Afghanistan (initiative led by the Crypto Relief, featuring some of the prominent crypto actors like Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal or Rahilla Zafar) are building new decentralized tools to raise and distribute funds. It is curating ASEEL, a marketplace for rural artists which has also transformed into a humanitarian outfit, distributing packages of food and medicine.
Crypto payment apps like HesabPay can help creating an alternative financial ecosystem that circumvents the Taliban-controlled banks. It can also allow donating directly to people, leveraging face recognition to avoid fraud.
Crypto could be the best tool to help people of Afghanistan survive these tragic times.
? it belongs solely to the person controlling its private keys and cannot be seized
? it can be distributed directly to the people in need, bypassing banks or crooks who resell aid packages
? it can access almost everyone: 88% of Afghan families have at least one smartphone
Independent money can be a portfolio diversification for some, and a life-saving solution for others. It is important to maintain it.