Rojava, AKA Northern Syria, is looking to implement blockchain technology to boost the region’s terrible economic status. The region is facing hostile economic sanctions by the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Rojava became self-governing in 2012 after a long civil war with Syria. It comprises three autonomous regions of the Afrin, Jazira, and Euphrates Regions with a total population of about 4 million. Despite being self-governing, the region’s economy is struggling.
The new state is looking to have its own currency, independent from Syria’s. Erselan Serdem the leader of Rojava’s Technological Development Program believes that cryptocurrencies could be the answer to the region’s economic woes. Echoing Erselan’s sentiments is Amir Taaki, a Bitcoin Developer and the proprietor of Autonomous Polytechnics, an academy of programmers set to open in Barcelona.
Challenges in Rojava’s current payment methods
The economic sanctions slapped on the developing state have caused inflation that is forcing citizens to carry large loads of cash to facilitate payments. Cryptos being virtual assets ease the hassle of having to carry around these large sums of money.
Cross-border transactions are charged exorbitantly. Individuals looking to transact in Istanbul for example pay up to 10% of the total amount being transacted in fees. Erselan speculates that using cryptocurrencies to make payments will cut down the transaction costs to 2% not to Istanbul alone but globally.
Rolling out cryptos
However, to introduce cryptos to the economy, first, local currency exchange platforms will be ‘equipped’ with Bitcoins. The second step will be to provide users with wallet software that has been translated to the local language.
Of course payment infrastructure like Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) and custom payment network would be utilized for fast, cost-effective and secure transactions.
The team is researching ways to facilitate offline transactions because a majority of the citizens do not have internet access. Among the options being explored by the team include paper-based currencies pegged to digital assets and radio-transmitted cryptos.
Besides facilitating transactions Erselan also believes that blockchain technology can help govern the state democratically. The technology could foster transparency, distribute democratic control, formalize relationships and establishing smart contracts.