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Opinion: The need for crypto education – Case study: El Salvador

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Proof of work, proof of stake, ledger, cryptography, mining and other buzzwords are a feature of the crypto community. However, for a kind of tech that hopes to achieve more mainstream adoption, blockchain has to be put in simpler terms for larger groups of people to understand it enough to want to adopt or use it. The current pundits of blockchain tech are more likely to be starry eyed (and equally cynical) tech enthusiasts as well as traders of different calibers and experiences who are obviously all trying to make profit rather than the layman on the street who’s trying to close off a purchase (the layman could be the trader but I digress).

What’s the idea here? In simple terms, there’s an education gap in the industry that essentially is hindering or slowing down the rate at which blockchain tech is becoming mainstream. Added to the drama is the fact that many cryptocurrency platforms are not owned and/or sanctioned by world governments. While public opinion on governments may look sour from time to time, people still have a propensity for trusting authority especially when it comes to value exchange. Therefore, there is a level of mistrust in schemes not government sanctioned especially since the technology that enables it to all work is misunderstood or not grasped at all.

However, to say that a central authority’s nod of approval is all that is required would be a shaky conclusion. El Salvador just recently made the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, legal tender. It should have been a happy ever after or a close approximation of that. However, it seems that public opinion on the use of the cryptocurrency as lawful money is still in the red. El Salvadorians have been protesting a rushed adoption of the digital currency as well as the fallout from the practical display of crypto market volatility. Hours after the “Bitcoin Law” came into force, Bitcoin lost as much as 18.6% of its value.

In El Salvador, even as progressive as such an initiative seems, the rollout looks to be full of issues. One that particularly stands out at this time is the lack of education the El Salvadorian public has about a currency that they are now required by law to use. A study carried out in August questioning 1,281 people showed amongst other things that people didn’t know about or understand Bitcoin. According to the study, only 4.8 per cent of respondents correctly identified Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency and that 7 out of 10 people did not fully understand what it is. The survey also showed that 2 out of 10 people had never heard of Bitcoin before. This is mind numbing for a country that has deployed the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Not surprisingly, there has been some opposition to its use. From the study, 68% of those polled disagreed with the use of Bitcoin as legal tender. 8 out of 10 respondents had little or no confidence in the use of Bitcoin. And, how would they? It’s apparent that many didn’t understand it well enough or at all to even develop that confidence in the first place. There have since been protests since the law came into force. Although, one cannot remove the political connotations present in the demonstrations, they still underscore a discontent at the heart of which lies a gap in education.

In other parts of the world, say, Africa, cryptocurrencies and their vast intricacies do seem popular. If you have a smart phone and internet connection that is. At the end of the day, Africa still has a comparatively low penetration of technology and internet connectivity varying based on the country in focus. The world has looked upon the rise of the blockchain industry in Africa, even calling it the next frontier because of the tremendous growth the sector has witnessed on the continent. But the big picture often hides the details, amongst which is the fact that said growth is driven largely by a specific age demographic in a handful of countries. And just as mentioned earlier, many are truly only in it to win it, casting to the side any cryptocurrency that no longer shows promise. But hey, at least some African nations are flirting with the idea of having state sanctioned digital currencies. Hopefully they do things better than El Salvador has.

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Crypto Culture

Twitter Bitcoin Tipping Feature: What it Means for Nigerians

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Twitter tipping bitcoin

On Thursday, September 23rd, Twitter announced a new feature that allows users to tip their most favoured content creators using Bitcoin. This new feature will allow Twitter influencers and content creators to earn money from anywhere in the world without any forms of geographical restrictions. To achieve this, Twitter partnered with Strike, a platform built on Bitcoin Lighting Network. A tiny money icon, which if turned on, would appear on the creator’s profile, informing others that the user is accepting Bitcoin tips. This new feature will be available on IOS devices and later allowed o Android users.

Twitter is not getting any cut from the money sent through its tips feature. The integration of Bitcoin to Twitter’s tip feature is not surprising since Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter is a big fan of cryptocurrency.

For users to send money to their favourite creators on Twitter through third-party apps, including CashApps, Patreon, Venmo, Chipper, Bandcamp, Razorpay, GoFundMe, PicPay and Wealthsimple Cash.

Chipper Cash is a Pan-African online transfer service that offers instant no-fee local and cross border money transfers. The company renders services to seven African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Strike allows users in the US and El Salvador to send and receive payment through Strike.

What is Bitcoin Lightning Network?

The Bitcoin Lightning Network is a route that eases Bitcoin transactions outside the Bitcoin network. It allows faster and easier transactions; it allows transactions to occur immediately and to be recorded on the Blockchain later. The Bitcoin Lightning Network is an important part of the blockchain ecosystem to address the problems and significantly enhance the scalability and speed of transactions.

Twitter is making use of the Bitcoin Lightning Network for a faster transaction as opposed to the ones carried out on-chain.

What the new Twitter feature means for Nigerians

According to a 2020 global consumer survey conducted by Statista, 32% of Nigerians said they used or owned cryptocurrency making Nigeria the highest cryptocurrency proportion in the world with regards to the survey.

Being the 2nd largest Bitcoin holder after the US, Nigerians have recorded a significant interest in the use and Bitcoin investment. The EndSars protest and the role digital currency played in raising funds to support protesters, the Nigerian government placed a ban on the use and investment in cryptocurrencies. To date, the ban is yet to be lifted. Another banwas placed on Twitter in what the government referred to as a means to regulate the micro-blogging site.

With these bans still in place, both Twitter and its tipping feature do not apply to Nigerians legally. Most Nigerians are carving a way out of these for themselves. Nigerians now access Twitter through VPN while peer-to-peer trading allows them to trade crypto as every other person. P2P is an available option to allow Twitter users to have access to the Bitcoin tipping feature.

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Bitcoin in Africa

How Demographic Trends are Pushing Cryptocurrencies Adoption in Africa

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Demographic trends

The African crypto market has seen a tremendous boom in the last few years. Driving this growth are a myriad of factors among which are economic inequality, volatile fiat currencies, low financial inclusion as well as high unemployment rates. These drivers of market growth are also greatly intertwined with Africa’s unique demographics which entail the distribution and categorization of the population.

The goal or aim of many cryptocurrency projects and the movement of the community in general is to get to a point where they’re widely used and accepted by individuals, corporations and governments. This implies mainstream adoption, much like the pervasive nature of mobile banking today. Africa presents unique opportunities owing not just to the socioeconomic clime but it’s demographics as well.

For cryptocurrencies to achieve mainstream adoption, they would have to in a sense become the norm and be widely accepted and recognized by virtually all corners of society, much like Facebook is in the social media world. In Africa, despite the size of the crypto market, cryptocurrencies are still a good distance away from what one would describe as popular acceptance. The sector is growing no doubt, however, that growth is reflective of Africa’s unique demographics and population scene.

It is without question that the African continent is the youngest, in terms of median age at 19.7 years. There are about 600 million people aged between 15 and 45 in Africa, representing nearly half of Africa’s population. Many nations, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa are in stage 2 of the demographic transition (high birth rates and high death rates – relatively low life expectancy) which is representative of the economic climes of these nations. A report found that around 13 million young Africans enter the labour market each year against 3.7 million jobs, most created by the informal sector. Therefore many African youth are laden with economic difficulties at that important time in their lives.

However, Africa’s young population, generally speaking, has a greater proclivity for being more open minded to technology adoption. Education and literacy has played a role in this with Africa’s literacy rate at around 70%. While not comparable to that of other continents, this rate is driven greatly by the large young population Africa boasts of. In any case, seeing the economic conditions of many African countries, and a tendency for young people to adopt and/or trust new technologies better and faster than other age groups gives some explanation to how quickly the crypto market is growing on the continent. As the years go by, the level of adoption would inevitably continue to increase as the current youth population expands till it gets to the point where blockchain becomes so pervasive that it achieves the necessary trust and acceptance to become mainstream.

Right now, in some African nations, that line is being crossed already with central digital currencies in development.

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My Crypto Journey – Meet Munachi Ogueke, Yellow Card CBO

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Munachi Ogueke of Yellow Card
#MyCryptoJourney: Munachi Ogueke, CBO, YellowCard Financial

It is fair to say that scams and scam coins played a role in the popularity of cryptocurrencies. A lot of big names in the crypto sphere got their first contact with crypto either through a scam or scam coin. 

For Munachi Ogueke, the crypto journey started with bitcoin but scam coins kept the ball rolling. The uniqueness of Munachi’s story, however, lies in the fact that he wasn’t in it for the gains but for the knowledge. 

Intrigued by how a single currency could be transacted without a third party and be globally acceptable, Munachi dived head-first into the crypto space. He has since, not only learnt a great deal about it but also created a business that serves Africa’s crypto needs.

Meet Munachi Ogueke 

My first contact with crypto was in 2016. We needed to make a cross border transactions and the Naira wasn’t helping. Someone suggested bitcoin, we used it, it worked and just like that, I got hooked and curious. 

Back then the crypto activity in Nigeria was little. It wasn’t really talked about because few people knew what it was. Information about crypto in Nigeria was very limited. My curiosity kept me interested in bitcoin, despite the dearth of information. Most crypto communities consisted majorly of foreigners. Regardless, I kept researching. Being a tech-inclined person it was fascinating to me so the zeal to keep digging was always there. While I discovered more about crypto I discovered scams too and fell for a number of them such as TBC.

Discovering bitcoin was more than making money for me. I wanted to understand the technology as deeply as I could. It was so phenomenal. This fascination led me to try everything about bitcoin. 

While the journey started with trading like most people it did not end there. Trading naturally motivates you to learn. Making mistakes in trading is not a very palatable experience. After a very severe burn, the motivation to do enough research before you make your next trade will come naturally. 

Trading was a thrilling experience as well as an eye-opener. Though it came with a lot of burns, I learned a lot about crypto from trading but journeyed further into the heart of crypto. Crypto was so multifaceted that I had to try everything. From running master nodes, I dabbled into mining and staking. I just didn’t ride the crypto train, I visited every cabin cause my curiosity of bitcoin then was just insatiable. 

Consequently, I came to the realization that with crypto, you need to find where your value and your personality align. My curious nature coupled with a degree in engineering economics, led to me looking for ways to merge tech with business development. I just didn’t want to make money with the tech, I wanted to learn everything there is to learn about it and bring about development through that technology. 

Being an early bird in the space I had substantial social capital. I travelled across Nigeria educating people about crypto and made some connections. My social standing in the space led to my meeting with Chris Maurice, CEO of Yellow Card. He had an upcoming event in the country and needed someone with enough experience and knowledge about what the space was like in Nigeria. From there we hit it off and I became a part of Yellow Card. I convinced Chris to bring the business to Nigeria and it has been growing. We are perhaps one of the biggest exchanges in Nigeria.

The crypto ecosystem has gone through a lot of changes since 2016 when I delved into it. There are more resources and information that can help newcomers navigate through the crypto scene. More is definitely coming because the ecosystem is still new and evolving. 

For those who are looking into entering the space, I’ll advise that they do so with the right mentality. It is not uncommon to see people trying to enter crypto just for the gains. It is a myopic view of what crypto is really about. Cryptocurrencies are providing freedom, it is a revolution. It is therefore imperative that we go into the sphere not just to earn money by speculating but to harness the real value crypto has to offer. 

Every crypto journey should entail a great deal of learning because it is by learning that we can innovate. 

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