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Saved As Bitcoin, Spent as Fiat Currency: Are Africans Now Saving In Cryptocurrencies?

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Natalie (Flickr)

“If I have money I don’t need presently, I’ll definitely change it to cryptocurrency and let it gain in value.”  This is what Mr Adeyemo Sunday had to say when Decentralize.africa asked him if he would save his fiat currency in the bank or instead, as a cryptocurrency. 

Switching from his bank app to his crypto wallet, he pointed out one by one, reasons why he thought cryptocurrency was brilliant for long term saving. From remittance fees to several bank charges, one could understand why he preferred to save in his cryptocurrency wallet.

Money has come a long way from the days of bartering to commodity money, and to fiat. Money doesn’t possess any value in itself, it only has value because people know it will be accepted as a form of payment. Money evolved because economic activities became heavy. Trade by barter could not sustain the amount of economic activities that were taking place across the world. 

Commodity money came and it still wasn’t enough. By the time Marco Polo traveled the silk road in A.D. 1271 and was trading in with paper currency, one could tell the fiat currency was the ultimate means of exchange and savings. Or, is it?

Although fiat currencies are efficient for spending, they may not be as efficient for savings. Leke Abiodun,  a Bitcoin enthusiast says “If it’s not in my crypto wallet, then, it’s buying me stuff.”

READ ALSO: The Best Bitcoin Books For Beginners

In the climes we are currently in, saving is more important than spending. According to crypto-trader, Adams Ola, “With the rate of consistent devaluation of foreign exchange, I believe smart investors and indeed, wise millennials  would adopt/hedge their investment in an asset class that defies the economics of state owned currency…”

It is a fiat-booby-trap.” Kunsha Javed believes the fiat currency was designed to keep us in debt. He says it will keep leaking out of our hands like water. “Any wise person will tell you saving money helps in life, but that is old and boring. Also, it never happens.”, Javed told Decentralize.africa. 

It doesn’t just leak out of hands, in some cases, it vanishes into thin air. Kunsha’s metaphor is quite accurate, but water isn’t the only element fiat currency can be likened to. It vanishes into thin air, and in some cases, burns out like fire. 

Rainy Days’ Savings Ironically Drenched in Rain

In Ghana, it rained on the savings of 70,000 thousand people. $1.6 billion was drenched in the rheums of the fiat currency. In a bid to clean up the banking system, the Ghanian government left many in financial ruin. A high level of financial crime needed to be curbed, but innocent investors were caught in the crosshairs.  “The government needs to step in to build confidence again,” the words of Lord Mensah, a finance lecturer. But does the financial system need a makeover or a complete overhaul?

Like Adeyemo and Abiodun, a number of people are beginning to change how they save. The traditional safes in which they keep funds seem to occasionally metamorphose into a ravenous fiat eating beast. 

Numbers don’t lie. The number of people who would save as cryptocurrencies outweigh those who would save as good old fiat. According to Bitcoin.com 73% of Argentines prefer the cryptocurrency saving method. Of the 1,113 people who participated in the survey 69.5% had invested in cryptocurrency at some point. 

An evolution is imminent. Could fiat, the ultimate form of money be gradually going through an evolution? 

The trend in far-away Argentina isn’t so different here in Africa. The current economic situation has also increased cryptocurrency activities in Africa. Cryptocurrency transfers have risen by 56% this year. Last year alone, $8 billion worth of crypto was received in the continent. The main reason for this hike are remittances and fiat currency devaluation.

Daniel Whyte isn’t a cryptocurrency enthusiast or trader. He has never had anything to do with blockchain technology, but he has heard of it. 

“If you had enough money to spare, would you save it as cryptocurrency”? Decentralize.africa asked Whyte. 

” I would consider it… I believe the world is going there now, but I don’t have a full picture.”, he replied. Although Whyte admits that he could join the crypto movement, he further emphasises that he would only do so after much consultation. His desire for a surety is only logical, as not all tales of the “new money” leave a juicy taste in the mouth. There is certainly room for doubt.

Ola Jegede gives a more practical picture of the difference between fiat saving and crypto saving. “If I bury $100 in the ground for 2 years by the time I dig it up I won’t be able to afford what was $100 two years ago. If I do the same with Bitcoin….more value.” He says.

With Stablecoins, Cryptocurrency Volatility is Minimised

Fiat currencies aren’t as volatile as cryptocurrencies. Their values change from time to time but the changes are not as severe as with cryptocurrencies. So why put your money in something so unpredictable?

Samuel Attah, blockchain enthusiast and writer, has a way round the volatility of these cryptocurrencies. “Stable coins.“, he says, though still a cryptocurrency, these coins are pegged to something else like the US dollars, for example. So while an African currency depletes, saving it as a stable coin pegged to a stronger currency retains and increases its value while it remains stable.

Money only holds value because people let it hold value. It is quite evident that a lot of value is being attached to cryptocurrencies. Next money or not, the current financial system is becoming inefficient and a change is imminent.

Crypto or Fiat: What’s your preferred method of saving your money?

Let us know your thoughts on this using either of the comments box.

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Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Adeyemo

    7 October 2020 at 12:45 PM

    I think the point made by Mr Samuel Attah should be looked into….yes we all think crypto currency is the only way we can save our money and earn as the value increases but then it’s only favorable to the foreign currency [USD]….As this currency increases in value so does our local currency [NGN] losses it’s value so I will say; as much as we invest in crypto we should not neglect our local currency also

  2. Anonymous

    15 September 2020 at 7:49 PM

    The world is changing! So is what makes the world go round; money!

  3. Anonymous

    15 September 2020 at 4:58 PM

    It only makes sense to save as crypto. You loose value saving as fiat.

  4. Anonymous

    15 September 2020 at 3:12 PM

    Nice one

  5. Tobi

    15 September 2020 at 11:57 AM

    It makes sense to save as crypto though

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Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency e-Naira Gain Traction

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eNaira

According to Governor Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) digital currency, the eNaira, which was officially revealed on Monday, has garnered immense interest and a positive response from both within and beyond Nigeria, with 33 banks fully integrated on the platform. The CBN has successfully minted $500 million, with N200 million going to financial institutions, according to Emefiele, who spoke at President Buhari’s historic launch in Abuja.

In addition, over 2,000 clients have been added to the eNaira platform, and over 120 merchants have successfully enrolled. Since its launch, the eNaira website has had approximately 2.5 million daily views. Customers who download the eNaira Speed Wallet App will be able to complete the onboarding process and build their wallet, locate their eNaira wallet from their bank account, transfer eNaira from one wallet to another, and make payments at registered merchant locations.

In terms of maintaining a robust payment system, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) feels that the eNaira will make a big difference to Nigeria and Nigerians. The eNaira will also lower the cost of processing currency, allowing for more direct and transparent welfare interventions for citizens, as well as increased revenue and tax collection, easier diaspora remittances, lower the cost of financial transactions, and improved payment efficiency.

Governor Godwin Emefiele outlined these advantages during the historic debut in Abuja, saying that Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is the first in Africa and a digital version of the actual Naira. 

What is eNaira?

The eNaira is the same Naira with considerably more possibilities, Emefiele asserted emphatically, guaranteeing that the new payment system is one of the most robust in the world, sufficiently safeguarded, and thus nothing to worry about.

In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) began an intensive study, consultations, identification of use cases, and testing of the CBDC idea in a Sandbox environment, in response to increased interest in Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) around the world.

The goal of the study was to provide a strong argument for the introduction of a digital currency in Nigeria so that all Nigerians can benefit from a more successful and inclusive economy.

Following the completion of preliminary research, the CBN’s researchers and experts were able to clearly establish that a digital currency will promote a more paperless, inclusive, and digital economy, complementing the successes of prior policy initiatives and our rapidly increasing payment systems.

As a result, the CBN decided to create its own CBDC, dubbed the eNaira. Like the physical Naira – eNaira is a legal tender in Nigeria and a liability of the CBN, which will have the same value and always be exchanged at 1 naira to 1 eNaira

To reduce the risk of the process, the CBN has carefully considered the entire payments and financial architecture, and has structured the eNaira to complement and improve these ecosystems, as well as implementing security protections and policies to ensure the financial system’s integrity.

To maintain the integrity and stability of Nigeria’s payment system, strict adherence to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations would be enforced, according to Emefiele.

The eNaira, like other digital revolutions, is a journey, and Nigerians should expect more features in the coming months. Accessibility and onboarding of consumers without BVN, as well as the usage of the eNaria on the phone without access to the internet, are among them. 

Nigeria will be one of the first countries in the world to implement the CBDC using USSD on phones, bypassing the need for internet access. The CBN also plans to use the eNaira platform to onboard revenue collection agencies in order to increase and simplify collections, as well as to create sector-specific tokens to support the Federal Government’s social programs and distribution of targeted welfare schemes in order to lift millions of people out of poverty by 2025.

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Jack Dorsey‘s Square to develop open source Bitcoin mining

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Jack Dorsey Bitcoin

On Friday, October 15, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that American fintech company, Square, would be looking to get into Bitcoin mining. Jack Dorsey who is also Square’s CEO announced this on Twitter which subsequently sent waves through the bitcoin market, surging its price to almost a record high, rising over $62,000 over the weekend. According to the Twitter boss, Square is looking to building an open source Bitcoin mining system that would be available to individuals and businesses.

Sharing his thoughts further on the initiative, he stated that “Mining needs to be more distributed” and that “the more decentralized [mining] is, the more resilient the Bitcoin network becomes. He also mentioned the apparent inaccessibility of mining stating that “Bitcoin mining should be as easy as plugging a rig into a power source.

Dorsey also believes that bitcoin mining “needs to be more efficient and that “clean and efficient energy use” would be undoubtedly beneficial to the digital currency in the long run.

Dorsey ended the thread by saying that a “technical investigation would be undertaken by a Square team led by Jesse Dorogusker, Square’s hardware lead. If successful, this initiative would be another of Square’s bitcoin focused projects which includes a Bitcoin hardware wallet.

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Financial Leaders from G7 Release Guidelines for Central Bank Digital Currency

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Source: World Atlas

At a meeting that was held in Washington, yesterday, October 13, G7 leaders discussed central bank digital currency and endorsed 13 public policy principles with regards to their implementation. The financial leaders from G7 agreed that CBDCs would complement cash and should not be detrimental to the monetary system. The G7 leaders have been discussing CBDCs this week concluding that they should do no harm and meet rigorous standards.

It should be noted that G7 includes finance leaders in advanced economic nations comprising of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.S and the U.K. the G7 leaders make it mandatory that any newly launched CBDC should not harm the central bank’s ability to perform its duty of maintaining financial stability. In a joint statement by the G7 finance ministers and central bankers, they said that, 

“Strong international coordination and cooperation on these issues help to ensure that public and private sector innovation will deliver domestic and cross-border benefits while being safe for users and the wider financial system.” 

The joint statement further states that CBDCs are complements to cash and could serve as a liquid or safe settlement assets with an added advantage of anchoring existing payment systems. CBDCs issuance should be entrenched in a long-standing public commitment to transparency, rule of law, and sound economic governance. The statement added at CBDCs must be so efficient that they are fully interoperable on a cross-border basis. 

The G7 leaders agreed that they had a duty to minimize the incidence of ‘harmful spillovers to the international monetary and financial system” 

The G7 statement reiterated a similar statement earlier made by G20 that no global stablecoin project should begin operation until such a token has addressed legal, regulatory and oversight requirements. 

Countries like China and Nigeria are ahead of the pack with regards to the adoption of digital Yuan and Naira respectively. China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency may be a step forward for the country’s plan to promote its digital Yuan. Nigeria, on the other hand, postponed the launch of its eNaira in deference to the 61st anniversary of Nigerian independence on Oct 1. 

However, countries like the US and the UK are dragging their foot with regards to the introduction of CBDCs to their financial system. There are insinuations that America is in danger of being left behind technologically and financially if it doesn’t get serious with the implementation of CBDC in its financial system.

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