In yet another example of how cryptocurrency can help to improve the lives of those suffering from economic turmoil, a Venezuelan Bitcoiner by the name of Randy Brito released the Locha Mesh Initiative. The initiative aims to help local vendors and communities continue commerce during times when electricity is not available.
Brito received the inspiration for his latest project from the frequent blackouts his country experienced over the last year. Venezuela was cast into the dark earlier in the year after large portions of the country loss access to power. Sadly, this scenario is all too common.
Locha Mesh Initiative
Brito realized that commerce halted as soon as the internet was no longer available. He figured that there has to be a way to allow regular people to send and receive private messages and payments without an internet connection.
During the week-long blackout, Brito saw many Venezuelans forced to use cash because they lacked alternatives. Unfortunately, Venezuelans national currency has seen record inflation over the last few years. To put the situation into context, inflation increased from 61,463 percent on 21 August 2018 to 65,320 percent by 22 August 2018.
Inflation Drive Crypto Adoption – Locha Mesh Initiative
The crippling inflation helped fuel a wave of crypto adoption in the region. This adoption inspired Brito. Furthermore, he concluded that it was a poor internet infrastructure that was the true barrier to crypto adoption and not a lack of technical understanding.
The demand for a less alterable monetary supply helped this ingenuitive individual come up with two hardware prototypes to combat these concerns. These prototypes allow individuals to communicate and conduct commerce without the need for internet connectivity.
Turpial and Harpy – Locha Mesh Initiative
The two prototypes Brito developed, the Turpial and Harpy, work like routers but without the need for a Wi-Fi connection. The hardware can pass messages around the “mesh” until one outlet finally has an internet connection.
Amazingly, the Turpial device saw extensive use during the March nationwide blackout. The device allowed commerce by making it possible for users to send and receive payments using the bitcoin network for 22 consecutive hours.
Blockstream Satellite – Locha Mesh Initiative
In order to accomplish this monumental task, the Turpial connected to the Blockstream Satellite node. Once connected, the device was able to relay that connectivity to other Turpial device users.
Speaking on the concept, Brito described the deteriorating financial structure in Venezuela. He described how the blackout left millions of citizens with little options.
Brito also took a moment to touch on the lack of high-speed internet in certain regions. To this extent, he explained that some people are unable to download a Bitcoin wallet app due to “the lack of infrastructure.”
Micropayments – Locha Mesh Initiative
The addition of the Lightning Network to the protocol was the logical next step in the products’ development. Micropayments are a critical component of any functioning economy. The Lightning Network enables Bitcoin users this functionality at a far more efficient and cost-effective option.
2020 Public Release – Lightning Network
Currently, Brito is shopping for donors to take his invention to the next level. He was last seen at the 2019 Lightning Conference in Berlin. Here, he explained why the Lightning Network is the next step in the equation. Users need a way to send small payments in a safe, fast, and efficient manner. The Lightning Network provides these services and more.
Bitcoin without Electricity
It’s often said that Bitcoin can't function without the internet. While during the early stages of the crypto market, this was true. Today, this is no longer the case. Consequently, developers such as Brito intend to capitalize on these new abilities in an attempt to provide relief to those struggling from failing government-backed financial institutions.