With a global market size of $700 billion a year, remittances are the low-hanging fruit for crypto companies.
As America withdraws troops from Afghanistan, Western Union is suspending money transfers into the country. In other words, when Afghans need their support the most, they shut down the operation.
Sounds like a nightmare, right? Like it can’t be possibly real?
But it is.
The company said this in a statement to Reuters:
“We recognize that our services provide a vital channel for our customers to support their loved ones, and we will continue to closely monitor this rapidly developing situation and keep our customers and associates apprised of any developments.”
Most Europeans and Americans don’t know much about Western Union. Remittances are a particular type of money transfer between two countries. They are typically sent by the diaspora or foreign workers, wiring family maintenance money back home. Remittances are a major source of income in poor nations like Afghanistan.
What does it mean for the Afghan people?
Afghanistan has a population of 37.4 million people, and 54.5% live in poverty, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. When it comes to remittances, they constituted nearly $800 million last year, about 4% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the World Bank data.
It’s not a massive amount on the global scale, but it could be the difference between putting on not putting food on the table for the poorest Afghan citizens.
Make no mistake, Western Union’s decision is insidious and infuriating at the same time. As if the 40-year of the Soviet and U.S. intervention wasn’t enough. Western Union made the life of Afghan people even harder.
But there’s no point getting mad.
It’s important to understand, global corporations have no conscience or empathy. In fact, they can’t have it. Anthropomorphizing the corporation would be treating it as a single giant human being with morals and feelings. Obviously, corporations are not humans and have no feelings. And Western Union is the latest illustration of that.
The way out of the abyss
Instead, we have to search for alternative solutions. I am a great believer that Bitcoin and crypto companies are critical to spreading human rights all over the world.
For example, DeFi and crypto companies with the Lightning network integration have been aiming at disrupting the remittance market for a while. With a global market size of almost $700 billion a year, remittances are the low-hanging fruit. Everyone wants a piece of this pie.
Crypto companies will soon dethrone incumbents like Western Union and MoneyGram because of costs and complacency. They will be cast out and become the next Kodak or Blockbuster. It’s just a question of time.
The Western Union story can serve as the most compelling evidence that we need censorship-resistant money. No single intermediary should be allowed to cut off the entire country from the vital channel of financial support.