Bitcoin has had its bad rap in the past, mainly through association. Countries and individuals who find themselves vetoed by financial institutions can look up to the digital currency for inclusion.
Such has been the story of a young scientist from Kazakhstan who’s waging a solo war against millions of copyright owners. 31-year-old freelance coder Alexandra Elbakyan is a neurobiologist and philologist, who runs a database of over 80 million articles. She runs a free research service the enables students’ access to academic journals that are otherwise only available through subscription. Bitcoin has become her lifeline since mainstream financial institutions won’t process donations sent to her.
Prohibited U.S-Based Companies
Alexandra runs a popular website Sci-Hub that she says sees over 600,000 downloads daily. At least two science publishing house has brought charges against her website. It is also rumored that the U.S. Department of Justice suspects the site of spying on behalf of Russian Intelligence. This means that she cannot access mainstream financial services.
Because of Elbakyan’s feud with the publishing industry, she cannot use any U.S.-based services. The U.S. Southern District Court of New York indicted her in a case against Elsevier in 2017 and ruled the Sci-Hub should shut down besides slapping her with a $15 million fine. She also lost another lawsuit against the American Chemistry Society, which slapped her with a $4.8 million fine. The court prohibited all U.S-based companies from facilitating Sci-Hub’s work. She recently told a leading publication:
“When I opened a PayPal account, the donations would hit every minute. But after one day, the wallet would get frozen.”
Typically Requires Bank Account
Most people still believe that bitcoin services only two types of people: criminals and techies. It’s the former that gas smeared bitcoin’s otherwise good name. Several relatively affluent people on the West have adopted bitcoin as technical curiosity, a cost-saving measure, or a political statement. It’s only a small group of countries and individuals that have adopted bitcoin because of their social, economic circumstances.
A 2012 World Bank report cited factors like cost, distance to a banking facility, and bureaucratic hurdles as reasons that more than 2.5 billion people lack a bank account. Doing business with reputable vendors typically requires a bank account. The same applies to receiving remittances from countries like the United States.
How It Can Solve Their Problems
Back in 2017, crypto enthusiasts said they believed Iran was a perfect candidate for embracing bitcoin’s censorship-resistant utility. The reason what the U.S. economic sanctions against the country enforced economic embargos against Iran. That saw “dollar-less Iranians had discovered the virtual currency.” Bitcoin became valuable in Iran because they could be easily spent abroad by citizens the report detailed. Iranian-American bitcoin consultant Farzad Hashemi said of Iranians:
“They are instantly fascinated by it; […] it’s a flash for them when they realize how it can solve their problems.”
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin serve three purposes: An actual currency to store value, a financial rail to move money, and a ledger to record and store ownership information.