🇺🇲 American in rural Zambia 🇿🇲 since 2018
⤵️₿🧙♂️🐇🕳 only trying to save $40 in bank fees 🏦 remitting 🇰🇷💰 in 2014.
New to Twitter, grateful to have learned on Reddit. Now on to NOSTR?
Chess ♜, H20 🚰, Sleep 🛌, Audiobooks 🔊📚 @ 4x speed
(and free from our local libraries, even while abroad [thanks taxes!])
AmeriCorps Alum, Obama White House Alum, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
Happy to chat about ₿itcoin adoption in rural Zambia, developments seen since 2014, we Progressive Left in ₿itcoin, public service, podcasting, audiobooks, nomadic travel/vanlife, cybersecurity, or possibly anything if you sign and encrypt with PGP.
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Host of ₿antu ₿itcoin, a local language ₿itcoin-only education podcast🎙️ in rural Zambia 🇿🇲, in partnership with Anita Posch of Bitcoin for Fairness on BTCpodcasting.com.
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Smartphone adoption is growing rapidly in the capital city of Lusaka where 4G cell signal is strong. (I'd be happy to connect you with friends down in the capital who can better speak to that growth and their ₿itcoin efforts.) However, in the rural village 13 hours north where I've lived since 2018, smartphones are still few and far between in 2023. Heck, running water and electricity are absent here. Solar panels, if at all, are typically small, 10-20 watts, yet still rare, but suitable for charging simple phones. Cell signal is improving, but still most often displays as "E" (the Edge network, like 2G), or I can go stand on a particular hill for spotty "H" (3G). Some larger towns are beginning to see 4G more often. No 5G or StarLink out here as of yet.
Mobile money use on old-school feature phones is not uncommon, though cash remains dominant, hands-down. Still, people are familiar with the mobile money concept as these are the very people among the 2 billion unbanked and unserved by high bank fees, thus the Lightning Network has tremendous potential throughout sub-saharan Africa. And though it is custodial, still Machankura's SMS text-messaging ₿itcoin wallet, working without Internet, is an absolute game-changer for its practicality in introducing rural Zambians to ₿itcoin and the Lightning Network! ⚡
Appallingly, in just these 5 short years, Zambians have lost 50% of their purchasing power (measured in $USD) as the exchange rate has inflated 100% from ~10 -> ~20 kwacha/dollar. Cooking oil and transport fuel are the two hardest hit and most noticed expenses for the typical rural Zambian. Notably, many women at my local market no longer accept 5 ngwee coins ($0.0025) even where a common transaction might be 1 kwacha ($0.05), so might we say this is proportional to not accepting nickels for a one dollar sale? Interesting...Well, hold on a second. Proportional, yes, but equal, maybe not. In the US, it wouldn't be far off to hear, "you can't buy much for $1 these days," whereas here, I don't know that, "te kuti ukushita saana na umo kwacha" ("you can't buy much for 1 kwacha") is as common a refrain...in fact, my experience says otherwise. So maybe the denial of the 5 ngwee coin makes less sense still than not accepting nickels in the US would. Is it an unfair comparison?
Anyway, that reminds me, may I rant about Cost of Living for a moment? I'm assuming you've seen those longer-than-normal TV commericals with sad violin music for charities that show "oh those poor black children" with flies on their faces, guilefully attempting to guilt you for a generous monthly contribution, talking about the tremendous number of people around the world who survive on just one dollar a day. Can you believe it?! I agree, $1 a day sounds terrible and people absolutely should have more to live well on. Same page. However, I would remind viewers not to forget that they're not talking about living on $1 a day in the United States, so perhaps we might first consider just how far a dollar a day actually goes in such places. What these poverty-porn non-profits want you to forget about, in exchange for your branded t-shirt or hat, is that Cost of Living is relative, particularly in the most rural places like where I am with, yes, grass-thatched roofs, no running water, and no electrical grid. However, I do concede that even in relatively closed circular economies like this rural Zambian village where people grow their food, the increasing price of goods produced externally does hurt, mainly fuel. And so, the response should not be that they ought to continue to just live isolated from global trade. Thus, a dollar a day is still absurd and people deserve better. Yes, and I just have to say, out here, I can live on a dollar a day too. I have, I do. I can buy a lot of fresh vegetables and more at the local market for a day's dollar. $4 can make rather healthy meals for a week.In short, as it seems to be for most of us worldwide, perhaps ₿itcoin's strongest value proposition for rural Zambians too is as a long-term savings account that can't be debased.
The problem isn't the nominal value of $1; the problem is the money itself.
And white saviorism with its cotton tote bag of overhead isn't helping. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
*384*8333#to get started.
(And if you have one, it’s also already hidden on your Mac!)
Open Terminal and copy/paste:
open /system/library/image\ capture/devices/VirtualScanner.app/contents/resources/simpledoc.pdf
This has been written and talked about extensively, so I'll try to sum this up as simply as I might.
Bitcoin is not NEW. It's not 14 years old (in 2023). Bitcoin is the child of decades of research (back to the '40s and WWII if not earlier) in fields mixing programming and computers, cryptography and security, finance, economics, and monetary policy, the Internet itself, politics, game theory, and I'm sure even more. Bitcoin solved a very real problem in computer programming: the double-spend problem (which I won't go into here, but do look it up if unfamiliar). So it's not surprising that when you have something that is as revolutionary as Bitcoin seems to be, AND when that revolution is in a field as enticing to many as money itself, it would seem only natural that, like flies to light, you're going to get scammers attracted to this field. And that's what we have. Scams are everywhere in this space, so we must be mindful.
There are over 20,000 cryptocurrencies. Why? Well, open-source code (an auditing strength) can easily be forked (copied). So what gives Bitcoin's code actual value over any of the others?
Consensus-programmed digital scarcity and D E C E N T R A L I Z A T I O N
What? Alright, let's get to the meat of it. What is a blockchain?
Simply, a blockchain is just a digital ledger. A ledger creating a long record of every transaction that has ever occured. This is highly inefficient. In fact, it's so inefficient that you would never choose to use a blockchain unless the security created by the redundancy of the network's decentralization was your primary variable of concern.
Existing ways of transferring money (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, etc.) are already much more efficient than using a blockchain. The thing is, when you use these services, no money is actually moving in the world. These companies are simply updating their own internal company Excel spreadsheet. Whereas Bitcoin is a cryptographically secure, peer-to-peer, cash-bearer instrument itself that moves and settles in 10 minutes on-chain (vs 4-5 business days for cash in your bank) or instantly on the Lightning Network. To say that's special is an understatement.
I say again, a blockchain is only as practical as its decentralization. Thus, true decentralization is the entire reason for choosing to use a blockchain.
But as you've guessed where this is going, altcoins however, ARE NOT DECENTRALIZED. In fact, they are completely centralized. They are largely run on AWS (Amazon Web Services, or a similarly controlled database), meaning Amazon is a singular point of potential failure for all those altcoins.
Moreover, these coins have teams, and marketing budgets (people who can be manipulated and coerced, and people who need to get paid). Bitcoin does not. Many of these altcoins thus gave their teams a large amount of coins before making them available to the public; they were pre-mined. That is not a fair system on which to base a sound monetary network. Ethereum, for one, was pre-mined.
Bitcoin is based on a mechanism called Proof-of-Work. Putting in work sounds like the ideals of what fair capitalism competition purports to be. Reward for effort. Whereas altcoins are based on a mechanism called Proof-of-Stake. This means the more you stake, the more you put up, the more say you have in the governance of the protocol. So, the wealthier you are, the more power you get...sounds a lot like recreating the same problems of the current fiat system and global inequality to me. But with Proof-of-Work in Bitcoin, someone who has 16 Bitcoin has just as much power over the network as someone who has 0.00003445 BTC.
Let's remember, we're talking about reforming our world's broken monetary system, finding a way to have a fair, hard money standard to fix the fact that the US dollar, the world's global reserve currency (for how long now?), went off the Gold Standard in 1971. Bitcoin is not about turning a quick buck on now-broken-URLs that used to lead to an AI-drawn monkey image (NFTs).
Furthermore, your jurisdiction may vary, but altcoins are also likely to be deemed Securities, and in violation of various governments' SEC. Bitcoin is the only digital asset to have already been declared a commodity, not a Security, by the US SEC. The legal implications of this are not to be ignored.
Still, laws like this are just a story we humans tell ourselves about how society should operate. Bitcoin, frankly, doesn't care. It's a network that can't be turned off or shut down (Again, that's the power of true decentralization). The cat's out of the bag and it seems not many people have yet groked this very fundamental aspect of the protocol. We are indeed still rather early. Nonetheless, a race of geopolitical game theory has already begun and many countries (and individuals) aren't even aware that they're losing. That's why I'm grateful to be doing this work educating in a part of the world typically most forgotten or blatantly oppressed.
When money can move globally and instantly at zero cost, from even a old-school brick phone via SMS without Internet, countries and jurisdictions that are most friendly to this protocol will reap the greatest benefits first and those that don't, won't. All that bitcoin needs is the participation of those who want to use it. Everyone else will continue using an inflationary currency that a small group of wealthy central planners print ad infitium, thus debasing the savings and purchasing power of innocent people everywhere. Until they've had enough.
There's so much more that could be said, but I'll stop there. For more, listen to Bantu Bitcoin [English] - Episode 3 - "Bitcoin vs. altcoins."
Otherwise written as
20,999,999.9769 ₿TC, thus the true number is actually not quite 21 million.
// Why? Because the code uses fixed-point arithmetic for binary division.
Just a fun little fact for ya.
Open Terminal and copy/paste:
perl -e "print qq(your text to hash here, case matters)" | shasum -a256
Use your own discretion with this one (as with all advice). I welcome your feedback; let's tear this apart.
This is another popular conversation for obvious reasons. One way emerging involves the assistance of a third party, a company you'd pay like Casa. Though this requires some level of trust in them, I think they've taken reasonable steps to remove themselves as a potential point of failure, and all such planning requires trust, even with lawyers traditionally, so this may be a fine option for many if you want to pay for the service (may very well be worth it, IDK), but this is not the method I'm getting at here.
One novel and free way that I am exploring which may make such planning more accessible for more people is the following: Upon your death, after a pre-determined amount of time in which you have not logged into your gmail account (3 months is the earliest), you can set Google's Inactive Account Manager to send an email (or multiple) to your beneficiary's (most frequently used) email (gmail?) telling them to check their more secure (but maybe less used?) end-to-end encrypted protonmail email account, where you will have sent them another email (PGP-encrypted text only - do not trust Google with clear-text) outlining where or how they might access your ₿itcoin, offline.
That's basically it.
And now the disclaimers: As with all such inheritance planning methods now emerging, I imagine this is not absolutely fool-proof. For starters, it requires a working knowledge of PGP for both you and your beneficiaries (a learning curve indeed perhaps). And that is, an encrypted message only, DO NOT trust Google with sensitive clear-text! I don't know of anyone who has yet relied on this method. However, I have walked through an actual experiment of how it would play out and it seemed to work flawlessly.
Another disclaimer among many: Clearly, this requires putting trust in Google and that alone should make you ask yourself some hard questions: Do you trust Google (or more aptly, any one rogue employee) not to attempt to decrypt your PGP key themselves, hard as it is? Moreover, PGP doesn't have 'forward-secrecy' either, so consider the potential to decrypt PGP more easily in the future (quantum computing?). Would anything about your gmail address itself (your name?) draw a target or attention as to who you are or what you might have? Maybe the gmail account you set this up from is completely new, random, and never publicized? (But then, are you logging in every 3 months to keep it fresh?) For obvious reasons, this also means your gmail account should have an extremely strong password (Are you using a password manager?) and app-based or Yubi key 2FA enabled (not SMS).
More thoughts: If your beneficiaries have access to your online accounts upon your death by any other means, presumably they could just login and see the future messages in your Inactive Account Manager settings within 3 months... and well, by the same token then you also could have just left a PGP-encrypted message in your Drafts folder or something, and tell them to look for that, but.. I wouldn't. Or you could not use Google at all, but encrypt a PGP message, print it out, and give it to them in your papers via a lawyer. They would then have to ("gasp") retype it all or I imagine by then, simply scanning the document, a text reader of the future could pull out the text before decryption (can do so now I think with PDF Expert.) I digress.
Note: I am only suggesting the possibility of encrypting a message about WHERE or HOW to find your seed phrase, offline, in real life. (And certainly, you can further complicate it with information that only your beneficiary would know, like a treasure map of sorts. Or separating the seed phrase from an added BIP-39 passphrase.) I am not advising you to type the actual seed phrase online. Even encrypted. In fact, I am actively advising you NOT to type your seed phrase on a computer, ever! That is the only thing in this whole section here that I am actually advising. Never type your seed phrase on a computer. I wouldn't even say it out loud.
Again, I welcome your feedback and the poking of holes in this idea. And if you do try this, I invite you to let me know; we can talk it through if you want.
BTCPayServer Integration Coming soon
Kickstarter launching soon on an awesome product.
If the simple math equation below no longer equals 21 or otherwise disappears, something has happened which I cannot legally disclose. It would behoove you to exercise caution in your interactions with me.
19 + 2 = 21
21 = 21 ✔️