An Up-Close View of Bitcoin’s Value: The Bitcoin in Uganda Film

Bitcoiners are finding inspiration in a recent mini film put out by bitcoinfilm.org, Bitcoin in Uganda. The film features a

Bitcoiners are finding inspiration in a recent mini film put out by bitcoinfilm.org, Bitcoin in Uganda.

The film features a 20-year old student, Ronald, studying Finance and Accounting. He is in need of some income to support his ongoing education. Even when his studies are complete, the outlook isn’t great. It’s difficult to find a job in Uganda, even with a degree and the right papers. His sister works in Massachusetts and had been sending funds through MoneyGram to pay for his tuition and the family’s living expenses.

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The narrator muses at how it’s cheaper to use a cell phone than use a bank account in Uganda. If one were to deposit $40 for example, it would be gone within a year’s time due to bank fees.

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Ronaldo is sent first a small amount of bitcoins to ensure his Multibit is working, and thereafter a larger amount. All are amazed at the speed and cost-effectiveness.

Arguably, this area is where Bitcoin makes its biggest and most obvious value-add to economic efficiency. The remittance market was worth over $500 billion in 2013, nearly triple its value from 2000. According to the World Bank, remittances account for 8% of the receiving countries’ GDP. Taking an average of a 10% cut, $50 billion is syphoned off from the value-add economy by middlemen, less the value truly added by their transmission services.

While the bulk of the film is inspiring, one can’t help but notice nuances of anti-government sentiment and a doctrine of “everyone will be equal” towards the end. Regardless of one’s views on such matters, or if they’re more relevant in a place like Uganda, the economic argument for Bitcoin still stands on its own.

Also sketchy are the details of how exactly Rodolfo is able to exchange his bitcoins for cash on a consistent basis. He is shown travelling to town to pick up cash from someone whom he sold his bitcoins to, a dubious way of transacting reliably long-term. There aren’t any Bitcoin exchanges supporting the Ugandan shilling. Nor are there Bitcoin ATM’s or a significant number of merchants accepting it.

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