While challengers face an established financial system controlled by a tight-knit cabal of tech and banking interests in the developed world, emerging economies may prove to be the fertile ground that truly fosters cryptocurrency growth.
That’s the view of Nano (NANO) founder Colin LeMahieu. Sitting in a dim-lit cafe, he explained to Crypto Briefing that the project was turning its attention away from the rich West and into regions that have hitherto been excluded from reliable financial services.
“The fastest road to adoption and the places where we’ll have the most natural use-cases are in the developing world,” LeMahieu said. Cash-based economies are more likely to see the advantages of digital assets than those that already have access to banking infrastructure.
Nano is moving steadily from pure tech building to the business development phase, says LeMahieu. The next challenge is moving the project across the “chasm” from a small collection of early-stage adopters to mainstream society.
As part of this effort, the company has announced Appia, an open-source payments platform enabling merchants to accept cryptocurrencies. Users can transact in any cryptocurrency they want, but the hope is many will select Nano because it offers free and fast transactions.
“We’re not going to door-to-door,” LeMahieu said. By offering what they believe to be is the best service, Nano says it can encourage organic business adoption. “It’s better than one person telling you to use it,” he explained. “If it’s just us that looks a little bit disingenuous.”
The problem with trying to entice businesses based in developed economies is that it’s far harder to drive adoption. Established financial systems struggle to overhaul popular payment methods. It was only three years ago that US merchants started to replace magnetic swipes with the more secure chip and pin card readers.
Rather than letting the technology wither on the vine, Nano is taking a particular interest in building a presence in countries such as Madagascar, Ghana, Brazil and South Africa, LeMahieu said.“We think Nano as a currency is widely applicable everywhere but you can’t roll it out everywhere instantaneously”.
LeMahieu believes that when it comes to adoption as a unit of exchange, Nano’s approach will win out over its competitors, including Facebook’s Libra.“It becomes a matter of trust between you and the issuer of the coin, instead of with the coin itself”, he said.
In private blockchains that trust goes to the controlling entity, which has the power to track users’ transactions. In a public blockchain, trust is placed in the digital asset itself. Users have to feel confident that the asset itself will work and hold value, like any other existing form of currency.
Facebook and JPMorgan may be muscling into the crypto scene, extracting a few benefits and concocting hybrid assets that squash overheads to keep them at the head of the global table.
But other cryptocurrencies shouldn’t be ignored. Moving away from an already crowded market may enable Nano to flourish and develop new use-cases in uncharted territory. Not to mention, there are plenty of reasons to avoid the centralization that comes with adopting these data-driven leviathans.
It’s easy to imagine that public blockchains have had their day, as Libra will likely continue to dictate the narrative for a while – but if Nano gains traction in the developing world, that might not turn out to be the case.