Blockchain technology supporting unbanked families

Ismael is a 19-year-old entrepreneur, surf instructor, and student. He’s also a new homeowner using a Blockchain-based mortgage.

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Ismael is a 19-year-old entrepreneur, surf instructor, and student. He’s also a new homeowner using a Blockchain-based mortgage.

Until recently, Ismael lived in El Zonte, El Salvador, in a galvanized metal home held together with wooden sticks. He’s the head of the household and one of many unbanked residents in El Salvador.

About 70% of the adult population in El Salvador is unbanked, preventing families from obtaining a loan and owning a home.

Many residents distrust banks and the government due to a history of corruption and costs that outweigh the benefits. The requirements to open a bank account are strict. You need a large sum to make the initial deposit. Even then, you could face interest rates as high as 150% and travel an hour to use banking services.

The Blockchain offers underserved people like Ismael a more accessible way to finance.

Ismael took a business course to help him discover ways to make a living. One day, he was at the beach and saw a man selling shaved ice. Ismael asked him where he got the ice from. The man shared he purchased it at La Libertad, a city more than a dozen miles away. Ismael immediately saw an opportunity and bought a freezer from a friend for 200 USD.

“That’s a lot of money for me, but I started to make ice and started selling it to the shaved ice vendors. Now, the vendors pay me in Bitcoin.” Vendors stop by his house, grab the ice, and pay Ismael via his username without him having to be there.

From his lunch to his mortgage, Ismael pays for nearly everything using the Bitcoin wallet created by our team in partnership with Bitcoin Beach.

He’s saving hours every week by not traveling to make payments in person with cash, pen, and paper. The accessibility empowers Ismael to reach his full potential without relying on a traditional bank.

“I’m going to school because I want to achieve my goals like going to university and following my dreams,” he says.

Beyond selling ice and going to school, Ismael is learning English and growing his other business, Underwater, which sells t-shirts inspired by the ocean and surfing in El Zonte.

“It’s really interesting to see how this technology is going to change the world. I can now make a house payment in one second.” — Ismael

The quick and secure payments are giving Ismael a record of transactions he didn’t have before. He’s gaining financial literacy, even working with Bitcoin Beach to teach unbanked locals how to manage their own Bitcoin wallets.

"Many people are coming to El Salvador who are giving us opportunities to have a house, have a job, and teach us more about technology and their culture. Bitcoin is not only a coin. Bitcoin is freedom for my community. Many peolpe come to El Zonte and use bitcoin, helping the local economy. It's easy to get and spend money. It's not scary, and it's a new technology, and it's the future." — Ismael