Bitcoin has always been used for both ethical and unethical reasons. While the government seems to focus on its illicit use, which has led to several crackdowns, Palestinians are using the digital assets to trade goods and services. Earlier this week, industry news outlet CoinDesk published a report stating that Palestinian civilians have begun to use Bitcoin more than the terrorists who have ravaged the region for decades.
Speaking with the news outlet, Ismael Al-Safadi, a Bitcoin enthusiast and freelance web developer based out of Gaza, confirmed that his country is becoming an emerging region for Bitcoin trading and other related transactions. He confirmed that Bitcoin businesses have thrived in the area, with an influx of both large and small Bitcoin clients.
The $5 million in average monthly transactions given by Al-Safadi is rather significant, because it is markedly higher than the “thousands of dollars” in illicit transactions being carried out with Bitcoin, according to a separate report by the New York Times.
CoinDesk reported last year that there was a local Bitcoin dealer in Gaza who served about 50 clients a month, with an average of $500 each in Bitcoin liquidations or purchases. While the dealer has now relocated to Europe, it would seem that the Bitcoin industry in the area has continued to stay above water. Citing sources in the region, the news outlet noted that there are now over 20 Bitcoin dealers in Gaza.
As for reasons why this is so, the sources note that Palestinian countries have been blacklisted from cross-border money transfer services such as Payoneer and PayPal. Primarily, Bitcoin serves as an excellent way for people to get money from abroad, especially for freelancers like Al-Safadi who work for international clients.
While it won’t be possible to see the volume of crypto transactions being conducted in the region (because, just like Iran, the Palestinian crypto space isn’t connected to any banks or cryptocurrency exchanges), it would seem that peer-to-peer exchanges and unofficial dealers are the heartbeats of the market.
As for how the entire crypto appreciation came to be, CoinDesk sources claimed that the interest in Bitcoin actually began as an unintended consequence of the activities conducted by Islamist fundamentalist group Hamas. Per the sources, Hamas has been using Bitcoin as a means of generating funds for its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. Thanks to this, civilians have been looking into what Bitcoin is and how the asset worked.
The crypto craze in Palestine actually goes beyond Bitcoin, and use cases transcend payments as well. Al Safadi, who reportedly earns about 70 percent of his monthly income in Bitcoin, stated that Gaza has about 10,000 occasional Bitcoin users, although interest in Ethereum (and, of course, Ether) has peaked as well.
It was reported that several people have begun teaching seminars on crypto, while another UAE-based Palestinian is currently working on an Ethereum-based charity platform to help fund schools in the region and provide better education for the next generation of Palestinians.
Yet, there are also risks involved with Bitcoin trading. Dodgy bitcoin bots companies like bitcoin code app promise investors unrealistic profits and many investors have already lost money.