If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, you’ll know that it is an internet currency designed for paying for things predominantly in the online universe, at least for now. Bitcoin ATMs don’t give out money like a traditional cash machine, but allow their users to insert notes in exchange for bitcoins and receive a paper receipt.
It is now easier than ever to spend and send bitcoins since the cryptocurrency has grown in popularity, and Bitcoin ATMs are becoming highly prevalent across North America. As yet in Africa, though, there are very few. Do countries in Africa need to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon?
Of all the continents aside from Antarctica, Africa has the fewest Bitcoin ATMs with a 0.11% share in the world’s total. The majority are in North America with 73.09%, while Europe has a 20.56% share. In two years, the numerousness of the Bitcoin ATM has grown rapidly, but Africa has been slow to jump on board.
It is believed that Sub-Saharan Africa is a very fertile market for Bitcoin because there are swiftly growing numbers of international remittances to the region. In 2015, the World Bank projected $39billion in remittances to the continent. There are high costs incurred when making payments to Africa, though, and this is why Bitcoin would be an ideal replacement to varying currencies. Africans spend fees of around $24 to send $200 to their home countries, which is double the global average rate, according to this report.
Using Bitcoin to send money overseas is becoming the most fashionable and affordable method of transferring funds, and not just because it is cheaper. 2016 has shown how world events like the presidential election in America can affect currency exchange rates, but things like Bitcoin, gold, and silver actually increased in value. More people are now choosing to tie up some of their money in the cryptocurrency to protect it in times of uncertainty.
What makes Bitcoin a more useful asset than gold and silver is that it can be used to buy things instantly. There are now sites online that operate solely with the e-currency, to make sure that their product is a fair price to all – no matter which country you are from. The Bitcoin casino is a prime example of an industry that has decided that the borderless world of the internet should use its own currency. Click here to see that there are now slot games that are specifically designed to be played with Bitcoin, and how this company also promotes Bitcoin mining.
Up to now, there haven’t been many Bitcoin start-ups in Africa. That could be set to change as more tech-savvy Africans start to realise the benefits of the cryptocurrency, so thinks look like they’re about to change. Bitpesa is one Bitcoin start-up which is beginning to make waves in Kenya. CEO Elizabeth Rossiello said they decided to set up in the country because of the popularity of mobile money there.
In the seven years since Bitcoin began circulating, the currency has gone from strength to strength. Bitcoin ATMs are a relatively new addition to the growing market, and judging by their huge increase in predominance over the last two years one would assume that it is just a matter of time before they sweep across Africa.