The use of Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency that is not controlled by any central authority, is quickly growing across Africa, especially in money transfer services where Africans living abroad are always looking for cheaper ways to send money back home for investment and other needs.
While there has been some resistance against the use of Bitcoin in countries like Kenya, where the central bank warned against its trade, and in Nigeria, where the regulator wants Bitcoin trading regulated on fears it could be used for money laundering, platforms dealing in the digital currency are on the rise across the continent as more people and businesses accept it.
In April 2015, Africa held its first ever Bitcoin conference in Cape Town, South Africa, and was followed up by another event in March this year, where the early cypto-currency adapters on the continent sought to raise awareness levels about its trade.
Here are 8 way Bitcoins is being used in Africa:
Bitcoin is being used as a way to enable Africans living in the Diaspora to send their money back home cheaply. One of these transfer platforms is Kenyan-based BitPesa, which five countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. Customers receive bitcoins and then convert it to local currencies by use of mobile money platforms. It offers its services at cheaper rates than traditional players such as Western Union and MoneyGram.
In Stellenbosch, South Africa, Custos Media Technologies uses Bitcoins to tackle piracy. It has embedded bitcoin bounties within videos, which can only be downloaded by bounty hunters. Then when a successful download is made, the video owner is alerted of the download.
Still in South Africa, Bankymoon — a company that helps other companies figure out how they can use Blockchain for their businesses — is offering municipality authorities across the nation with metering systems that have made it easier to collect revenue from their customers, such as payment of electricity bills. Digital wallets addresses have been assigned to each meter holder so when a customer sends digital currency to the meter, the account is credited with the deposit.
South Africa’s Bankymoon also introduced a crowdsourcing platform, Usizo which helps donors to send money to the assigned Bitcoin addresses of the schools. This in turn credits their electricity meters and electricity units are added.
In 2014, a campaign to help SOS Children’s Villages in Botswana was launched. A Bitcoin appeal was used to help raise funds for refurbish Serowe Youth Facility. The facility offers care to orphaned children, destitute and abandoned children.
Denmark-based firm Bitcoin Nordic launched an online payment platform known as CashU in North African countries that allowed users to make payments using Bitcoins through their credit cards. The company also offers Bitcoins for cash transfers although these options are not accepted by Visa or MasterCard. It is used by a majority of the young population in the North African region.
In Nigeria, Minku Design which makes leather products such as bags, purses and jewelry, accepts bitcoins as a mode of payment from its customers. It is among the pioneer companies in the country to accept payments in this digital currency.
In South Africa, microfinance institutions BTCJam and BitLendingClub use bitcoins to provide investment and loans services to people in the country. BitLendingClub offers borrowers an opportunity to choose interest rates based on their requirements.
A South African online auction and marketplace platform, bidorbuy.co.za, uses Bitcoins as a payment option, which enables customers to pay using the digital currency. After the customers pay using bitcoins, it is reflected in the seller’s Bidorbuy accounts. The Bitcoins are then automatically converted into South African rand at the current exchange rates and credited back to their accounts.