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The article written by Asha Javeed, dated December 14th, 2021, titled, “T&T ready for Cryptocurrency: Programmer Mark Pereira, founder of Zed Labs…” and published in the Daily Express Newspaper caught our attention and gave a premature excitement of what was to come.
Is Trinidad and Tobago ready for cryptocurrency? Before this thought is answered, this article seemed more of a marketing piece for Zed Labs, and a history lesson of the tech journey and travels of Mark Pereira, sprinkled with a sensational title.
Poorly written articles like this one, posted in periodicals and read by the masses who do not understand cryptocurrencies, NFTS, and the “this and that’s” of the cryptoverse, may become fascinated by the little mentions of crypto-trigger-words. It was like a beautifully branded product that tasted horrible.
So, this article aims to educate, share some thoughts on the readiness for Cryptocurrencies in Trinidad and Tobago, and provide some context about the space for reference.
We have written many articles about cryptocurrencies and privacy & security. In addition, we educate persons about the cryptoverse and provide the tools and resources to help them effectively participate.
Cryptocurrencies have existed for some time hiding in the shadows of the internet and became more noticed after the birth of bitcoin.
IS TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO READY FOR CRYPTOCURRENCIES?
The short answer is, maybe. Let us examine three areas that impact Trinidad and Tobago’s crypto-readiness.
Many pyramid, multi-level marketing (MLM), ponzi, crowfunding schemes have plagued Trinidad and Tobago, and have successfully obtained millions of dollars from the gullible and those who want to get rich quickly. The hype sessions promoting doing little to nothing to become wealthy spurs excitement in the uninformed.
While the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) has been posting informational pieces on their social media and developed an app for persons to report schemes, the regulation has been relatively lax, therefore contributing to the great success of these schemes.
Many persons who participate(d) in them used cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, USDT but did not and still do not understand anything about these cryptocurrencies. The, “you can become rich with cryptocurrency, and the, you can earn passive income with cryptocurrency,” narrative is what most have been told is the key to financial freedom, and therefore join these schemes.
We have had the likes of the Drug Sou Sou (DSS) which was shut down, but still have CashFx and many other schemes which exist today. However, in an article by Loop News, the government stated that they are taking steps to make these schemes illegal. Read more in our article, “Rank Up and Multiply Your Money into Thin Air.”
Culture and Finance
Historically, sou sous were a means of saving or obtaining money for various purposes instead of taking a loan from a financial institution. This crowdfunding approach still exists today, and have continued to be quite successful, as obtaining loans from traditional financial institutions have increasingly become more difficult.
Credit Unions have also been a go-to means for many to obtain loans, and obtain a better return on their money as their interest rates and returns are better than banks. Many traditional financial (TradFi) products and services such as Certificates of Deposits (CD’s) and savings accounts, yield almost zero interest and have historically performed poorly.
In the cryptoverse, many decentralized financial (DeFi) products exist which have steadily provided better returns than tradFi products. Many persons and businesses across the world continue to benefit from defi products that include yield farming, lending, borrowing and derivatives which have all out-performed tradfi products and services. Also, cryptocurrencies make remittance much easier than using tradfi.
Adopting and adapting to defi products, service and solutions would not be difficult once one obtains the required knowledge, tools, and resources.
There is a severe lack of financial intelligence that exists in Trinidad and Tobago. To date, there are a significant number of persons that do not have bank accounts or understand how banks work. In many instances, these are the persons who are more likely to join pyramid and get rich quick schemes.
When you combine a lack of knowledge about finance with cryptocurrencies, there would be a perpetual cycle of lost finances and an outcry by persons for government regulation. The use of knowledge would lead to better financial decisions and risk management.
For Trinidad and Tobago to be ready for cryptocurrencies, persons must genuinely want to improve their knowledge about financial technology (fintech), and repel the urge and attraction to constantly gamble with pyramid and MLM schemes.
Businesses must have an open approach to embrace these new technologies, encourage innovations, and create sandboxes to experiment with them.
Lastly, the government should obtain the right council and resources to improve their understanding of these technologies and how they can positively impact all sectors of the economy.
Here is a brief history lesson about bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and the cryptoverse.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BITCOIN AND CRYPTOCURRENCY
In 2009, Bitcoin was created by an anonymous entity called Satoshi Nakamoto to give persons A CHOICE to TAKE CONTROL of THEIR MONEY. On January 3rd, 2009, the following message, “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks”, was quoted and embedded in the first transaction in the bitcoin blockchain, in the first block called the Genesis Block.
Fast-forward a couple of years, in 2017, bitcoin became the talk of the town with conflicting views of its value by governments, retail/institutional investors, and the mainstream media. As the price started to increase rapidly (mainly due to speculation), millionaires were created overnight—many FOMOed into it without doing any due diligence and risking money they could not afford to lose. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.
We also had the birth of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which became a mania. Everyone and their grandmother were launching ICO projects. Again, many FOMOed and invested significant amounts of money into these ICOs with little (if any) due diligence with the hopes of million-xing their investment.
Pyramid schemes also used this mania as an opportunity for profitability. We wrote about this in our article, “Rank Up and Multiply Your Money into Thin Air.“
Then, the crash came in 2018, and many of the ICOs turned out to be scams or failed projects, and many were left holding useless bags. Many lost their life’s savings and significant sums of money due to poor risk management. Then the anti-bitcoin/anti-cryptocurrency campaign was born. Note – like in any financial market, there were winners and losers.
An opportunity presented itself for governments to step in like knights in shining armor, to “protect citizens” from these virtual assets that created peril in the financial sectors.
- Crypto-pyramid schemes folded or exit scammed, taking all their participants cryptocurrency.
- Some ICO founders were fined, had to return money to investors, and their projects were shut down
- Some tokens were deemed securities, the issuers fined, and their tokens had to be registered with the regulatory body as a security if the initiative was to stay active – many never recovered.
- ICOs died, and STOs were born (Regulated ICO’s)
- Exchanges were forced to become regulated or shut down; some moved to crypto-friendly nations.
- Bitcoin Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) were born and offered by regulated hedge funds, and ONLY INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS WERE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE…BECAUSE… “PROTECT RETAIL INVESTORS FROM LOSING MONEY!”
FAST FORWARD TO 2019 – 2021
2017/2018 taught investors valuable lessons in risk management and the importance of due diligence.
Many events between 2019 and 2021 influenced significant changes in financial markets, including the United States Presidential Election and the Covid-19 Pandemic.
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were less volatile in 2019 and for the majority of 2020. However, from September 2020 to Q1 of 2021, bitcoin made a steady rally from USD 10,250 to over USD 60,000 in March 2021, and an all-time high of $65,000.00 in October 2021.
Many were wondering what caused a significant spike in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The answers are not as complicated as one may think:
- The BITCOIN IS FOR BANDITS narrative [mostly] died
- Institutions now understand the value of bitcoin and the benefits of distributed ledger technologies to their organizations.
- Many retail investors have a better understanding of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, which enable them to be in control of their finances and have access to financial services which may not have been offered or available to them in traditional financial markets.
- Many Decentralized Financial projects and products that provide investors with better returns on investments than if they invested in traditional markets.
- More opportunities for persons in the creative industry through NFTs and Gaming
- Economic tool in oppressed nations
- Censorship resistant; anyone regardless of their creed or race can participate, be in control of their finances, invest and earn better returns, transact with anyone, wherever they are located without a back or payment processor
Note: NFTs existed for a long time. Cryptopunks and Crypto Kitties were launched in 2017 (they weren’t the first), but the NFT craze did not go mainstream until this year (2021).
Currently, we are experiencing an NFT mania. Because NFTs are the “new cool thing”, many trashy NFT-related projects and tokens will be developed, and most likely NFT-MLM schemes. As usual, many will jump on the hype train to buy into them without doing much (if any) due diligence to later be disappointed.
N.B. This section of the article was taken from one of our other articles.
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