Political uncertainty and a looming threat of hyperinflation have pushed an anonymous group to create an initiative designed to educate the people of Lebanon about Bitcoin.
With no end in sight for the month-long anti-government protests in Lebanon, and faced with the possibility of a complete lack of economic freedom, an unknown fringe group has decided that it is time for the people to take matters – and money – into their own hands.
The group’s name, Bitcoin du Liban, is a pun on the country’s national bank, Banque du Liban, whose recent closure and slow reaction to withdrawal limits set by other banks did nothing to calm the growing disdain among the Lebanese people.
The website offers detailed information and guides on buying, storing, using, and sending Bitcoin. Users can access simplified information on Bitcoin’s origin and other technical information on how the network operates as well.
With around 20 percent of Lebanon’s GDP relying on remittances, Bitcoin du Liban believes that educating both its citizens and displaced Lebanese around the world about Bitcoin could drastically reduce the effects of the impending financial crisis.
Lebanon facing unprecedented political and financial crisis
Bitcoin du Liban maintains that corruption and mismanagement of the government have pushed the Lebanese banking system to the brink of collapse.
“With a dollarized economy, increasing public debt in foreign currency USD as well as LBP, [the] Lebanese bubble is about to burst, hinting [at] major hyperinflation on [the] horizon.”
The Lebanese people are all too aware of their precarious situation. What began as a relatively small demonstration against a proposed $0.20 WhatsApp tax quickly grew into a nation-wide protest that has left much of the country gridlocked.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the month since the protests began, demanding an end to Lebanon’s broken political system.
The frustration felt by the Lebanese reached a tipping point several days into the protests, when demonstrators lit fires on main roads in the country’s capital and blocked highways.
This led to schools, universities, and banks closing their doors in fear of the increasing violence on the streets.
Growing frustration and poverty
After reopening, many banks put a limit on US dollar withdrawals, which only added fuel to the fire that began on the streets.
Lebanon’s highly dollarized economy has been stagnating since war broke out in neighboring Syria, but took a major hit this year as the volume of remittances from the Lebanese diaspora also decreased.
The World Bank reports that the breakdown of public resources in Lebanon, coupled with the influx of roughly 1.5 million Syrian refugees since 2011, has forced more than 200,000 Lebanese into poverty.
This country’s dollar peg, which was set to around 1,510 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, is now nearing 2,000 LBP on the black market, with many fearing it has created a bubble that is just weeks away from bursting.