If we do it right, crypto education could be the key to boosting financial empowerment and increasing widespread acceptance across Latin America.
Around 15% of the world’s supply of Bitcoin (BTC) was in circulation in Latin America in October 2021, according to estimates. However, according to a recent survey published by Crypto Literacy, 99 percent of Brazilian and Mexican respondents failed a basic crypto literacy assessment. Crypto adoption is well underway in the region — even on the rise — but many people still lack a fundamental knowledge of the technology behind it and its applications.
When this lack of fundamental crypto literacy is evaluated in the context of Latin America’s growing economies, where blockchain technologies have real-world applications, it becomes a serious worry.
People in Latin America who aren’t crypto-literate risk missing out on stablecoins, which can safeguard them from the region’s rapidly rising inflation. As well as decentralised applications (DApps), which give unbanked people access to financial services through their smartphones. Cryptocurrencies provide a faster and less expensive way to move money across borders in nations where remittances are a key part of the economy.
So, how can we make this life-changing technology more accessible to Latin America’s most neglected populations? Education.
Using education to open the door to mainstream adoption
Financial literacy, trust, and safety are three fundamental barriers to mainstream crypto adoption that education has the capacity to address.
Financial literacy, or the lack thereof, is not only a barrier to crypto acceptance; it is also a barrier to regular bank adoption. As of August 2021, about half of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean was unbanked, meaning they lacked access to a bank account or other financial services. In addition to residing far away from financial institutions, many people say they are unbanked because they lack trust in them. There is typically a lack of comprehension where there is a lack of trust.
From personal experience, it’s not uncommon in Mexico to hear stories of parents advising their (adult) children to exchange their savings for US dollars and store them in a safe rather than entrusting their profits to a banking institution. We can inspire more trust in financial institutions as a critical pillar for fostering mainstream adoption by improving financial literacy around both broad financial ideas and more focused blockchain-related topics.
Education inspires trust in more ways than just financial institutions. It’s also about believing in yourself: People who are unfamiliar with the institutions and technologies with which they engage are more prone to make dangerous financial decisions. They are well aware of this. Education can act as a safety net by informing people what regulations are in place to protect them and how financial services fit into those frameworks.
Teach where it counts the most
Cryptocurrency has the ability to revolutionise the world, and those who master it will have a significant advantage. Given the importance of education, it’s critical that the crypto world targets audiences deliberately in order to perpetuate existing disparities. Remote and underserved regions, as well as those who do not have access to traditional education, should be in the forefront of blockchain education recipients.
We must offer mobile-friendly educational possibilities for distant villages so that people may access learning materials from their phones without having to drive hundreds of kilometres to the nearest city.
For individuals with less education, multimedia educational tools that avoid the requirement for reading without presuming a high level of underlying knowledge should be considered.
Mentorship programmes and role models for women are critical in developing welcoming and inclusive settings that are specifically tailored to attract women to cryptocurrency.
Women’s interest in cryptocurrency is growing, yet the education gap persists
We should provide resources in local languages for global audiences, such as Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America, to ensure that we reach the broadest potential audience.
We must avoid erecting financial obstacles to education for everyone involved, trusting on the long-term benefits of expanding user bases through free and open education.
Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies were created to disrupt established financial power structures. They have the ability to significantly increase Latin America’s financial inclusion and freedom. It’s no surprise, then, that cryptocurrency acceptance is already on the rise. However, when new technology becomes more widely adopted, we run the risk of leaving the most vulnerable people behind. This is something that education can help with. Education can help people gain confidence in this quickly evolving technology by instilling knowledge that allows them to interact properly with these new tools. Financial exclusion can be broken through education.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.