Likely barriers to blockchain adoption in developing countries

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by Lumai Mubanga

The most obvious trend in adopting technologies has been from the developed to the developing world. The developed nations design, develop, adopt and quickly disseminate technological advancement to the developing countries for financial and other benefits. While the developed countries easily adopt these technologies easily because of their educated populace and advanced infrastructure, the developing countries have their own challenges that make them either delay or forego the adoption. This article will highlight the most likely barriers developing countries will likely face in adopting blockchain.

Old Habits die-hard

Much as was the case with the internet, there are many misconceptions regarding new technologies. Some developing countries especially in Africa believe in “if it’s working, then its fine”. They preserve the status quo. Adopting new technologies, blockchain included has been, and remains the biggest challenge because of this attitude. Of course, every country has its own challenges but overall, this presents the one challenge. For example, to date, there are schools where there is no internet, not because the technology is not available, but because teachers are able to produce good results without it. Until now after the COVID-19 pandemic would we witness or hear some shift toward adopting advanced technology to mitigate the effects. The same will likely happen with blockchain. As long as things can be done without it, why adopt it?

Self-preservation

Developing countries in general have been hit with unemployment and many governments struggle to create employment for their citizens. Would they adopt a technology that will most likely send the few employed out of employment? Not likely. Blockchain adoption, especially in the banking sector will most likely have that negative effect. Financial transaction over the blockchain will most likely leave many bankers unemployed, as the banks role in financial matter will decline as more and more businesses adopt the decentralized way of doing business through blockchain. This effect has already been partially felt with the introduction of mobile money services. Some banks have closed branches because mobile money services have taken over the role of the bank. What more the blockchain giant? To save their fragile human resource base, developing countries would rather delay or ignore blockchain all together.

Infrastructure

Developing countries technological infrastructural development is either outdated, not there or fragile. Technology demands infrastructure: internet, communication towers, constant and reliable power, cloud services, technologist to manage it and an educated populace to use it. Most developing countries are still struggling with these factors and it may be years from now, before they begin to think and adopt the technology. If full internet service adoption is still an issue, then blockchain will have to wait for internet to be fully adopted.

Defining and launching the right products

Perhaps the biggest obstacle. Defining and launching the right product to use will be another barrier, knowing quite well that developed countries are still experimenting a lot on this ecosystem.  The financial use cases are getting a lot of tractions. Developing countries may pick up from their but identifying local applications may be a challenge.

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