More Lebanese turn to cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin, while the country’s economy continues to stumble down. As the value of Lebanese pound decreases drastically, bitcoin becomes the more stable currency for the locals.
The unrest in Lebanon sparked in October 2019 with protests against government plans to charge for internet calls through “WhatsApp” and other applications but quickly escalated into a broader movement against ruling-class incompetence and corruption.
As Lebanon’s national debt is one of the highest in the world, the government applied severe austerity measures to save the country from bankruptcy. Since then banks drastically tightened limits on foreign currency transfers and withdrawals. This also led to money depreciation and meant that people are losing 40% of money value while withdrawing their savings.
The changes inspired Lebanese to look for an alternative, which happened to be the bitcoin. No limitations on the withdrawal or censorship of transactions quickly made virtual currency a popular way to move money in and out of the country.
Will it impact the bitcoin price?
The country is currently experiencing a bitcoin boom, according to reports of Al Jazeera.
Since bitcoin is seen as a more stable option than the country’s fiat currency, the price of it surged to the new heights in local exchanges and reached over $14k per BTC, while the average general price is still below $9,5k.
As digital currencies are not issued nor controlled by any government or financial entity, they are also attractive because large sums can be transferred within just a few minutes. Meanwhile, the fiat transactions might take up to 10 days in the country.
Even though there still remain obstacles for mainstream adoption of virtual currencies, including slow internet, unreliable electricity or bank restrictions for purchasing digital currency with Lebanese credit cards, the bitcoin is already a serious alternative for Lebanese.