In this Bitcoin Weekly it’s time to explore how Bitcoin and related technologies are and could be put to use. To start, the Danish Liberal Alliance has become the first-ever political party to use blockchain technology to facilitate e-voting. Crush The Street released a short seven minute documentary of the rise of virtual currency and its place in the digital marketplace. And take a look at how Bitcoin could find a niche in developing and weak economies across the world including Kenya, Argentina, Ukraine, India, and Venezuela.
The Danish Liberal Alliance political party becomes the first to use blockchain for voting
A political party in Denmark has decided to use a blockchain technology to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of a vote, reports Cryptocoin News. The Danish Liberal Alliance has used blockchain technology for an internal vote at the party’s annual meeting in Hvidovre, a suburb of Copenhagen.
The meeting was underway April 22, 2014 and is likely finished, but news from Denmark is hard to come by as to the results.
The press release [in Danish], mentions how blockchain technology is the basis of Bitcoin and that the same technology is designed to permit the removal of a trusted third party. The blockchain allows this by making all information transparently and publicly available on a distributed ledger. As with a normal blockchain, each voter would be able to verify their own vote was cast correctly by checking the blockchain vote ledger against their own secret, private key.
The distributed and public nature of the blockchain makes it ideal for proving the integrity of a shared event like democratic voting. “The blockchain removes the need for trust, because the technology can run autonomous without interference from humans,” said Mikkel Freltoft Krogsholm, a Liberal Alliance Executive Committee Memeber, adding that this and the open source nature of the blockchain technology makes it perfect for e-voting.
Providing for a trustworthy and private vote is another example of how Bitcoin side-chains could be used as an innovative technology.
The Rise of Digital Currency: Documentary
Money may have started as physical chips or chits that could be exchanged for goods, but with the rise of electronics and the Internet it has become increasingly virtual. The documentary above, provides a short-but-simplistic history of money and the revolution that electronic technology has brought with it for finances and money itself.
The documentary ends with a short timeline of Bitcoin-related technologies that have the potential of revolutionizing the way people look at and use money: Bitcoin ATMs, mobile payments, and so forth.
Bitcoin’s niche in developing economies
It has long been argued that a technology such as Bitcoin could have a strong influence in countries that have poor economies and weak central baking systems. In 2012 German software developer Rüdiger Koch argued exactly this in favor of Bitcoin development in Africa; in 2013 Kipochi, an easy-to-use mobile wallet, was launched in in Kenya.
Maintaining this expectation, CoinTelegraph published an analysis of the role Bitcoin might have in the economy of Argentina. The analysis cites an article, “Bitcoin and the Dólar Blue in Argentina” by James Downer. Downer writes that there is “a community eagerly buying up bitcoins for pesos,” and that bitcoin adoption is growing quickly. He notes that while most citizens don’t have access to exchanges, the best way to exchange bitcoins is to find someone selling online willing to meet locally to do the swap.
Argentina and Kenya are mentioned alongside Ukraine, India, and Venezuela as developing economies that could benefit greatly from Bitcoin, according to an article on Motherboard.com.
Ukraine has seen a great deal of political turmoil recently with violence erupting across the country. So, when Ukranian developer Yura needed donations for an online donations portal about protests against Viktor Yanukovych, the now deposed Ukranian ex-President, Yura asked for bitcoins. In response he received 111 transactions totaling around 20 BTC, or over $10,000. Since bitcoins cannot be readily intercepted or easily sourced back to their senders, they would seem ideal for funding vulnerable information sites.
India has relatively high rates of inflation and a strong remittance culture. Many Indians work in other countries and send money back to their families who remain in India. As a result, these workers end up spending a lot of money in remittance fees in order to transfer money internationally. Due to how easily bitcoins are transferred—and assuming potentially low exchange fees—India’s economy could benefit from the use of bitcoins to lower international remittance fees and send a greater amount of money home.
Venezuela also suffers from powerful inflation and has shown some interest in digital currencies. In 2010, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, ordered the creation of a state-controlled virtual currency, the sucre. It is currently the currency of choice for trading between Venezuela and nearby neighbors such as Ecuador and Bolivia.