For many users of the flagship digital currency in Nigeria, it is more than just a cool way to store value or make transactions, it is a means of survival. With the rate at which the Nigerian currency drowns, bitcoin is keeping a lot of businesses and individuals above water.
“There is no better place for bitcoin to thrive than Africa” This statement by Chris Maurice, CEO of Nigerian crypto exchange, Yellow Card, is affirmed by the level of crypto activity on the continent. Africa has the perfect landscape for bitcoin to thrive. With Nigeria ranked as one of the top crypto markets in the world, it’s not farfetched to say Africa is a crypto magnet.
However, the attraction to bitcoin isn’t borne out of sheer like or amusement, it is as a result of the country’s failing local currency. In November, the Naira shrinked in value, lower than it has ever had since 2017. The value depreciated to 495 Naira to a dollar.
Low oil prices, the pandemic and a few days of civil unrest has pummeled the Nigerian economy into recession for the second time in five years. The dying currency is forcing a lot of people to turn to bitcoin.
With the currency so weak, bitcoin becomes a necessity for most. Bitcoin is now a reasonable option for cross-border payments as sources of foreign currency such as the Bureau De Change cannot meet the high demand for dollars.
Bitcoin has made cross-border transactions easier, as a Nigerian can easily change his Naira to bitcoin and pay his Chinese counterpart who sells the BTC for any currency of his choice.
An anonymous source says that the Bureau De Change is educating customers on how to use bitcoin, as the demand for dollars becomes increasingly impossible to meet.
More Nigerians are exploring the ease which bitcoin brings to international transactions. A report shows that Nigerians now have more bitcoin wallets than Americans. The record breaking $25.5 million in monthly peer-to-peer lending, does not only show that Nigerians love bitcoin, but also that they need it desperately.
Ironically, the economic woes that afflict the country make it fertile ground for cryptocurrencies to thrive.
Although bitcoin might be gaining ground in Nigeria, its benefits are yet to be harnessed fully by those who need it the most. Educational challenges about the digital asset are still very imminent.
While many might be aware of bitcoin, most are not adequately educated about its uses and benefits. Concerted effort needs to be made at bringing educational content to people who aren’t actively searching for it. With more and more bitcoin stories making its way into the mainstream media, the future of bitcoin in Africa looks bright.