Becoming unbanked: a journey towards individual monetary sovereignty

Vini Barbosa

This article is written by a community contributor and does not represent the views of the Nano Foundation.

First things first…

My name is Vinícius Barbosa, a.k.a. Vini Barbosa. I am the Nano Foundation's ambassador for Brazil, a journalist and full time researcher covering the decentralised economy, and this year I am embarking upon a quest: 

I want to unbank myself by the end of 2023. 

I’ll be sharing every step of my journey towards monetary sovereignty - the highs, the lows, victories and defeats -  with you in a series of posts via the Nano Foundation blog.

The idea for the project came to me in September of 2022, during one of my many conversations with businesses, explaining the advantages of using nano in their day-to-day. I realised that, even though I use XNO often, if I want to be taken seriously I need to truly ‘live’ what I stand for. With real ‘skin in the game’.

I want to prove through my own experience that it is possible to live without depending on fiat and the current banking system. And that not only is it possible, but that doing so can bring many benefits – despite the inevitable risks and trade-offs that will exist along the way.

To bank, or not to bank? That is the question

I'm sure you've heard members of the nano community say that decentralised money has the power to be the bank for people who don't have access to the banking system. To ‘bank the unbanked’ is a well-known catchphrase, not only in the nano community, but also in other crypto communities – and this is a legitimate and necessary mission, considering that more than 1.4 billion people around the world do not have access to banking.

So, if it’s so important to ‘bank the unbanked’, why would an enthusiast of the same venture want, so intensely, to do the opposite? It's a fair question.

My ultimate goal is not to become a ‘bank hermit’, denying any and all interaction with intermediary service providers and absolutely denying the use of fiat currencies, thereby completely isolating myself from the financial system. It's not that black and white.

The main problem I see in our interactions with money today is an extreme dependence on this system. Whether that’s on fiat currencies forced vertically from top to bottom across the population; or the complete dependence on trusted third parties (banks) to interact with money. It’s a very uncompetitive market, dominated by lobbying and personal political interests that are not always aligned with the interests of the populations they are supposed to serve.

Mine is not an endeavour about not using facets of the current system. It is about not relying on them. If I need to use an intermediary, a bank or fiat currencies, I will. But by a conscious and voluntary decision which, at that moment, is the best possible choice for me. Not because it was the only option available.

The way I see debanking, it is a journey in search of more monetary sovereignty. And that journey has already begun.

What is monetary sovereignty?

Let's take a look at some definitions of monetary sovereignty:

“Monetary sovereignty is the power of the state to exercise exclusive legal control over its currency (...). Currently, nations such as the USA and Japan, which have autonomous central banks exercise monetary sovereignty. On the other hand, the European Union nations within the Eurozone, have ceded much of their monetary sovereignty to the European Central Bank.”Wikipedia.

“The ability to independently control the sources of money supply, interest rates and exchange rates.”IGI.

If we look for the definition of sovereignty, we find that:

“Sovereignty can describe the power of one state or thing over another or the freedom a state or thing has to control itself.” – Vocabulary(dot)com

In this way, it is correct to say that individual monetary sovereignty is understanding that the individual is the only authority capable of making decisions related to their own money, which cannot be restricted by any other power.

In my case, the quest for financial (or monetary) sovereignty involves my full ability to choose how, where and when I can use or store my money – and nano is a self-sovereign currency. It allows each user to carry out their own custody and be the only one able to send or receive value by signing, sending or receiving blocks, using private cryptographic keys.

Follow the journey

This is just the first post in a series that will be published on the Nano Foundation blog. In future instalments, I’ll explore the history of Brazil and explain why being here adds some urgency to my mission. 

I hope my journey will help to explain the importance of using nano in our daily lives and, in future posts, I intend to present some tools, strategies and economic concepts that can help others to follow the same path. Perhaps my efforts will also help to uncover some of the barriers that we (and nano) will need to overcome to make the path easier for those who follow afterwards.

And before you decide to start a similar quest, know that there are risks, difficulties and real threats along the way. My decision was consciously made after weeks of reflection and conversation with those around me who may be affected by my choices – and everyone is in agreement and supportive of my decision.

I hope you find some joy in my experiment and, even if you don't seek absolute monetary sovereignty, maybe you’ll pick up some small ways to use nano in your own routine. 

Okay, I’m ready. Let's walk together.

Follow Vini’s journey. Find him on Twitter, Reddit and Substack.

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