Lebanese citizens are increasingly turning to bitcoin in order to move funds in and out of the country.
According to a report by Middle East Monitor, the Lebanese are using bitcoin and other crypto assets to move funds amidst the country’s worst economic and financial crises since the end of the civil war in 1990.
The report claims confidence in Lebanese banks has continued to decline over the last year, coinciding with a series of anti-government protests. The banks have also instituted an informal capital control, which sets weekly limits on withdrawals. In addition, Lebanese citizens are restricted on “international spending” in an effort to prevent flight of capital out of the country.
Despite the limitations placed on average citizens, Lebanese Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri claims that banks owners have transferred more than $2.3 billion in “personal money” abroad over the last five months, ignoring their own fiat restrictions.
In response to the capital controls, the Lebanese have turned to bitcoin and other decentralized assets to transfer money freely and abroad.
Simon Tadros, a 33-year-old bitcoin trader from Beirut, told Al Jazeera, “Bitcoin is protected by mathematics, fiat [traditional] currencies are protected by governments. Which do you trust?”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the popular book Black Swan, called Lebanon’s current situation the “most potent case for cryptocurrencies,” while antagonizing the banks for failing to properly solve the crisis.