Alex Fedorak

Building Bitcoin Infrastructure in Austere Environments

Motiv’s humanitarian mission brings our field team to some of the most austere climates in the world. In sparsely distributed villages throughout the Peruvian Andes, villages are isolated from much of the infrastructure we in the so-called first world take for granted: clean water, safe food, reliable utilities, and a service economy ready to turn any vision you have into a reality. Motiv’s work in these villages began by providing essential aid to prevent child mortality, but in order that the improvements to quality of life we bring are sustained, a community must have a durable and resilient local economy.

Bitcoin (BTC) is perhaps the best financial technology to achieve community independence. Bitcoin’s monetary policy is fixed by mathematics and free from human error, it cannot be hacked, it is recognized in nearly every country, and it is extremely portable. Bitcoin is the world’s greatest tool to offer financial emancipation to people who have been victims of central banking and currency oppression. To build circular Bitcoin economies in austere environments Motiv has identified a framework of pre-requisite conditions that must be met before the conditions for success exist:

  1. Reliable access to electricity
  2. Reliable access to the internet
  3. Mobile phones in the hands of the community
  4. A custodial lightning wallet solution
  5. A locally managed full copy of the Bitcoin network
  6. Bitcoin training and education across the community

Electricity is often provided by government agencies or their regulated utility corporations, but a backup is always important. This can easily be accomplished with generators running on the most commonly available local fuel source, usually diesel, or solar panels with battery backups.

Reliable access to the internet is also often provided by the government or regulated corporations, but again a backup system is essential if the local economy cannot function without it. Motiv is very excited for SpaceX’s launch of Starlink ISP services in Peru later this year, and we hope to be an early customer.

Fortunately, many members of the communities we work in have some experience with mobile devices. Android is the most understood operating system, primarily because the devices are cheaper. Apple iPhones can be very expensive when imported into countries with high tariffs. Additionally, Motiv is open to accepting phone and tablet donations from our donor network (please contact us if you have additional devices that you are willing to donate).

Bitcoin is only scalable for microtransactions using the Lightning Network. Our vision is to equip and empower underserved communities with access to the Lightning Network and a starting balance of Satoshi’s currency courtesy of our donors. With these tools, individuals will be empowered to take control over their financial outcome in life, and support their neighbors in business.

A locally managed full copy of the Bitcoin network (Bitcoin Full Node) is also an essential part of any Bitcoin circular economy. Without a local copy and the training on how to access it, a community would be reliant on third parties to verify transactions, interact with cold storage vaults, manage Discreet Log Contracts (DLCs), and manage lightning liquidity channels. Combined with satellite internet and locally produced power, a Bitcoin Full Node enables a community to open a full-fledged financial services institution with services on-par with a major bank for just a few thousand dollars.

Lastly, none of Motiv’s efforts to create Bitcoin circular economies would be sustainable if we did not make training and education a high priority. When Motiv’s field team leaves town after deploying technology, it becomes worthless if the local community does not know how to operate, maintain, troubleshoot, and utilize the tools we provide. As CTO of Motiv, one of my highest priorities this year is to write a Bitcoin Education Primer in Spanish and translate as much as possible into Quechua (the native Andean dialect).

Motiv’s goal of turning Bitcoin into a tool for economic development goes hand-in-hand with our 5E strategy (Educate, Equip, Empower, Elevate, Emancipate), our international reach, our donor profile, and our objective of bootstrapping localized entrepreneurship. If you would like to support Motiv’s work in creating Bitcoin economies in some of the most disadvantaged places on Earth, please contact us.