Africans have become more interested in the rise, fall and opportunities bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have to offer after the sudden surge in the prices and value of cryptocurrency which occurred late last year.
Countries like the Gambia, Nigeria and South Africa were embraced in the cryptocurrency market. There have also been a few scams. Recently, South Africans lost an estimated amount of $50 million to a company called BTC global. This has not stopped Africans from looking forward to investing in cryptocurrencies.
No gain without some pain, right?
Uganda’s correspondent for BBC, Catherine Byaruhanga, stated recently, that the current sudden surge in the price and value of bitcoin, ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies may be one of the reasons why Africans now invest and prefer cryptocurrencies, not minding its volatility and several what if’s.
Some individuals see cryptocurrency has a get-rich-quick scheme, Ponzi scheme or an outright scam while others like the thirty-year-old Peace Akware (a resident and citizen of Uganda) see bitcoin as an escape route from poverty.
“Every day, at every given opportunity, I check my wallet and the current bitcoin price and value” She said
For citizens in Uganda, getting a job is almost next to impossible. Ms Peace has gone into several businesses with the hope of surviving. Trading in cryptocurrency has made it easy for her to gain a little cash. She claims it requires less of her time and allows her to make a profit without having to worry about cost. She also claims have thousands of bitcoins in her wallet.
Many African investors are like Peace. More interest has been piqued in new and old investors.
A Better Solution to Transferring Funds
Besides a medium of quick wealth, individuals also have genuine reasons for investing and taking advantage of the technology. In parts of the continent – especially commercial hubs like Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg – a small but growing number of people are finding that cryptocurrencies offer a cheaper solution to an expensive problem – transferring funds across borders without having to worry about cost.
There are cryptocurrency platforms such as Bitpesa which uses Bitcoin as a medium to transfer cash across borders. It is a remittance company.
Avesta seeks to integrate all the numerous advantages of using cryptocurrency all in one platform for easy access and transfer of funds, giving the ideal and seamless solution to the problem invading payment platforms all over the world.
In the use of cryptocurrency platforms like Avesta and Bitpesa , the amount of money lost in the conversion process which occurs while using traditional methods of transferring funds is eradicated.
With traditional remittance companies like Western Union, when you transfer money initially it goes from your local currency into dollars then on the other side they receive dollars which are then converted into the local currency. You lose a lot of money in that conversion.What Bitpesa does is substitute the dollars with Bitcoin. It is cheaper, especially when there is a shortage of dollars in the country or restrictions on accessing dollars.It is also quicker because you don’t have to go through long complicated bank approvals.
Elizabeth Rossiello is the CEO of Bitpesa. Even as someone who knows how the finance world works, she gets frustrated with traditional banking.
“I’ve been in Nairobi for the past month and I had three big banking things to do. All three of these operations with three different Kenyan banks were cancelled for different reasons, or had delays or needed additional information so it took almost two-and-a-half weeks per transaction to get them finalised and I’m an expert.”
Bitpesa has been operating for four years now and has over 6,000 customers across the continent. It focuses on big-ticket transfers – for example, paying suppliers in China or employees in another country.
In Nigeria, when the government placed controls on access to the US dollar during a financial crunch, Bitcoin made it much easier for businesses to transfer cash abroad, something that has increased interest in cryptocurrencies in the country.
In places like Zimbabwe, where there has been political and economic instability, Bitcoin has become a place to store value, buy goods and services from abroad and crucially a vehicle for remittances from the diaspora.
Cryptocurrencies are here to stay in this period and the economy is ready to be transformed. Redistribution of wealth to the poor will then be a thing we no longer have to be bothered with.
It is Cryptocurrency in Africa.