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Bitcoin Guide Africa

How to buy, send or sell bitcoins in Africa: here you get your answers!

The African Bitcoin Market and its Players

Our Bitcoin Guide Africa aims to illustrate the bitcoin setting in Africa, to describe the bitcoin market and the bitcoin affiliated companies as well as to describe how to realize a cheap cross border payment with the help of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin (BTC) is undoubtedly becoming a mainstream currency as seen in its recent increase in value in 2017, dip in 2018 and recovering in 2019. ​
As Africa wakes to this reality, BTC users across the continent are steadily increasing in numbers (e.g. Bitcoin to Rand / BTC to ZAR). They are also leveraging the benefits of blockchain technology in the effective running of their businesses.

E.g. many customers in South Africa use Bitcoin to ZAR transactions to use bitcoin gains for thair daily life.

Some investors are outwardly establishing themselves as key players in what seems to be a thriving financial ecosystem. 


However, who exactly are these frontiers and why / if Bitcoin (BTC) among all other cryptocurrencies?

One important note right at the beginning: for the Bitcoin Guide Africa we often use the term bitcoin. The main reason for this is because bitcoin is the mostly known and most spread cryptocurrency in Africa. For sure there are also other cryptocurrencies available, such as Ether, Ripple or Litecoin. Just keep in mind that in general we mean cryptocurrencies by using the term bitcoin.

Aims of this bitcoin guide Africa

I don't know how much experience you have about all these kind of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin especially, but me, personally, I had no clue about it before I startet informing myself.

That's why the main goal of this bitcoin guide Africa is to give you an overview about Bitcoin, Ether and the cryptocurrency market in Africa. And to illustrate you the benefits of it for your daily life:

  • How can I get Bitcoins?
  • How can I convert Bitcoins? USD to BTC / BTC to ZAR / BTC to NAR, etc
  • How can I use Bitcoins for remittances?
  • How can I use Bitcoins for cross border payments?
  • etc

I invite you to follow my Bitcoin FAQ and my Bitcoin Africa blog as well.

The Genesis of Bitcoin (BTC)

For deep insights on BTC and a better understanding as to why it’s the most sorted cryptocurrency in Africa and at large, it’s best to start with the genesis of online transactions, sighting how it has evolved to include the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC).

Fiat Money

Fiat money has always been the primary medium of exchange for goods and services. However, with the advancement in technology, new and better ways of making financial transactions are arising. Cryptocurrency is one that has taken the world by storm.


Simply put, fiat money is a form of payment whose value is determined solely by the governing state or by parties included in the transaction. Its value, however, is neither fixed nor is it necessarily backed by a commodity.

As a legal tender, if outlawed by the government, the currency loses its value unlike precious metals such as gold which have a lifetime’s worth. A good example would be the British Pound, US Dollar, the Japanese Yen, and South Africa’s Rand.

In the case of high inflation, the value of fiat money may increase or decrease depending on the stock market. If a recession occurs, we may see the end of certain government-sponsored currencies – a familiar scene in today’s Zimbabwe economy.

Fiat currency thus suffers significant setbacks in its use and is vulnerable to manipulation by both the government and interested parties such as banks. This makes it quite unsafe for high-risk investments.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency tries to address all the pitfalls associated with fiat money in its three main agenda. To safeguard financial transactions through the use of strong cryptography, govern the creation of additional crypto-units, and validate the transfer of assets.

Cryptocurrency:

  • Safeguard financial transactions through the use of strong cryptography,
  • Govern the creation of additional crypto-units, and
  • Validate the transfer of assets.


In other words, cryptocurrencies are a digital form of money that is boundless to any jurisdiction laws but traversing borderlines with instantaneous transactions safeguarded by high cryptography.

Cryptocurrencies act as a complementary currency to the nationally accepted money. As a virtual currency, they are not controlled by a single entity making them digitally decentralized.

Examples of cryptocurrencies are:

  • Bitcoin,
  • Ethereum,
  • Ripple,
  • Bitcoin Cash,
  • Litecoin,
  • NEM,
  • Dash,
  • and others.

Have a look on my article about Facebook Libra in Africa as well.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin (=BTC) is the first decentralized cryptocurrency ever to be created. It came into existence shortly after 2008, a year that saw Occupy Wall Street accuse significant banks of misusing borrowers' funds and duping the system. BTC was meant to eliminate such hurdles by keeping the seller in charge of the transactions.


In 2009, an open source software was released by an anonymous group aliased Satoshi Nakamoto. The software pioneers wanted to remove the concept of middlemen, cut out transaction interest fees while making the system transparent from malicious parties.

BTC, a peer to peer electronic cash system, was born. Just like most cryptocurrencies, it works under the blockchain technology to ensure all its intended purposes are met.

Bitcoin (BTC) in-depth

Simply put, Bitcoin (BTC) is a new form of money and a payment network. By a new form of money, we are referring to the BTC token where you have a code an extract that represents digital ownership of a concept something like a virtual IOU.


The payment network refers to the BTC protocol, a decentralized network in charge of maintaining a ledger of the balances of BTC token. When putting together, you get the Bitcoin (BTC) cryptocurrency.


The Bitcoin (BTC) money is digitally created and stored online in what we call a BTC wallet. It’s not only rare to find but expensive to buy hence the name digital gold. BTC doesn’t exist in paper copies but is only transacted digitally.

The Bitcoin (BTC) system allows users to transact freely without third-party interference from governments or payment gateways.


Bitcoin working principle

How Bitcoin (BTC) works

Bitcoin (BTC) works under two concepts: the blockchain technology and cryptography. Blockchain technology is in charge of the decentralized nature of the currency while cryptography works on its secureness.

Blockchain Technology

The blockchain technology is a value exchange/transfer protocol that allows a public ledger to be distributed on a decentralized network such as the internet. The ledger or database contains information on every complete transaction ever made.

Read more about blockchain technology

Cryptography

Cryptography plays a key role in the Bitcoin (BTC) protocol. It protects the identity of BTC users, ensures all transactions are conducted in a trustworthy manner while securing the transactions information.

Read more about cryptography

Get cryptocurrency knowledge

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum are a completely new area of knowledge for many people. That's a main reason why online courses about blockchain, distributed ledger technologies and cryptocurrencies are booming.

Online course market places like Udemy or Coursera offer bitcoin and cryptocurrency courses. Udemy courses are more intended to acquire some skills without formal degree. Coursera online courses are offered by leading universities as MOOC and acknowledged certificates are available.

Suggested bitcoin online courses:

Blockchain and Bitcoin Fundamentals (on Udemy) - Learn the key elements of blockchain and Bitcoin in this bestselling video course and accompanying PDF glossary.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (on Coursera) - How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?


Bitcoin in Africa

The uptake of Bitcoin (BTC) for the longest time has largely tilted towards the developed economies, but things are slowly beginning to take a turn. African nations are becoming more vigilant to the use of BTC as an alternative to their crippled fiat currencies.


Many see it as an instrument for bringing real economic growth, financial democracy, and autonomy in how businesses operate. Spearheading the movement are Nigeria and Ghana to the west, Kenya and Uganda to the east, Zimbabwe and South Africa to the South and Egypt to the North.

Read my article about South Africa: Bitcoin market guide South Africa


Though skeptics throughout the continent view this cryptocurrency as a floating bubble, a particular demography seem to embrace Bitcoin (BTC). African millennials are aggressive Bitcoin investors and contribute to almost half of the Bitcoin population.
The African Bitcoin beneficiaries use the digital coin and its technology in three ways:

  • as an investment opportunity,
  • remittance currency, and
  • technology leverage.

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Bitcoin investment in Africa

The bitcoin investment in Africa can be separated into Bitcoin trading and Bitcoin mining:

Bitcoin trading in Africa

A clear indication of the growing Bitcoin community in Africa is the rise in exchanges offering Bitcoin rate and other cryptocurrencies trading. BTC exchanges are digital marketplaces where buying and selling of BTC using Fiat or alternative currencies occur.

Read more about Bitcoin trading in Africa

Bitcoin mining in Africa:

In the Bitcoin ecosystem, miners act as the sellers of the digital coin.

Moreover, with a lucrative Bitcoin to dollar rate (BTC to USD), they tend to have a say in how trading goes hence the increased focus in the number of today’s miners.

Read more about Bitcoin mining in Africa

Bitcoin as remittance currency in Africa​​​​

Bitcoin  offers a cheaper way of peer-to-peer transacting. Though it is proven to be fluid in the past, its lack of government interference and transparency makes it an attractive medium of exchange in the African scene.

Many Africans prefer to buy Bitcoin because the transaction fee is low for remittances based on bitcoin values for cross-border transfers.

A good example would be Zimbabwe, a country that is facing Forex and currency challenges. The cost of sending money through banking systems is slow and tedious not forgetting the high transaction rates issued.


Before, giant money transfer operators like Western Union, PayPal, and MoneyGram primarily dominated Africa’s international remittance market. However, with the introduction of Bitcoin generator remittance startups in Africa, the ground seems to level-up.


Disrupting the current trend is Abra; a major app that enables P2P (peer to peer) money transfer, Kenya’s very own BitPesa; BitSpark, a universal end-to-end money transfer app, Remitano, Geopay and Coindirect, situated in South Africa, disrupting the P2P market.

Even as bitcoin transaction across Africa continues to grow there lies a dilemma in the lack of enough ecosystems that support Bitcoin as a mode of payment. Many merchants don’t recognize Bitcoin forcing its users to convert into local currencies to trade.


Also, the existence of fintech companies the like of Safaricom’s M-Pesa gives Bitcoin an intense competition. As the largest telecommunication company in Kenya, it owns over 70% of share in the Kenyan market. This makes Kenya a difficult country to penetrate in terms of cryptocurrency transactions.


Use of Bitcoin protocol in Africa (Technology leverage)

The blockchain technology is also another aspect that is transforming the face of Africa. African developers and entrepreneurs are leveraging Bitcoin technology in tackling some of the continent's severe problems of unbanked masses, untrusted voting systems and much more.


With more support coming from governments such as the Kenyan government that established a task force to study the impacts of blockchain technology, Africa can leapfrog the digital divide and become a market frontier just as it did with the mobile phone ecosystem.

Africa Bitcoin Top Players

Some African nations show a prospering Bitcoin economy based on their trading volumes. They include South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. The number of Bitcoin generator startups and community activities surrounding Bitcoin talks in these countries is quite high.

Zimbabwe and Botswana are also showing an increase in Bitcoin communities.


To mention a few, here are some of the leading Bitcoin Startups in Africa:

Ghana

  • Bitland: Uses the Bitshare blockchain to allow individuals and corporations to survey title deeds and land records.
  • PmCedis Capital: This is a company that offers medium Bitcoin wallet top-ups and withdrawals (one of Ghana's leading companies in charge of BTC transaction) 
  • Dream BTC Foundation: it’s an organization interested the wide acceptance of Cryptocurrencies across Africa especially in how they can earn Bitcoin. 
  • BTCGhana: this is a remittance company for the Ghanaian scene 


Kenya

  • Bithub: advisory firm that aims to benefit fintech startups and blockchain innovations interested on how to earn BTC through free BTC mining.
  • BitPesa: B2B money transfer app for the African cryptocurrency audience
  • Bitsoko: Android-based e-wallet that runs on blockchain technology
  • Chamapesa: a startup that's creating a blockchain booking service for self-help groups.
  • Pesamill: one of Africa's leading cryptocurrency exchanges


South Africa

  • Bankymoon: a startup that focuses on blockchain solutions for companies. Famed for their 2015 world’s first blockchain metering system. 
  • Blockchain Academy: a cryptocurrency institution that educates people on the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. 
  • Luno: Africa’s largest crypto-exchange and e-wallet concern with the change of Bitcoin into Rand (BTC to ZAR converter) [read here the extensive description and how-to-guide about Luno]
  • Custos Media Technology: This is a tech Company that is fighting media piracy.
  • The sun Exchange: It's a solar energy marketplace where people bitcoin investment is used for energy saving purposes. 
  • PayFast: It’s an online payment solution for web transactions that allows you to buy Bitcoin and sell Bitcoin to a dollar.
  • Tari Labs University: easy-accessible learning material for blockchain, digital currency anddigital assets
  • Remitano: Peer to peer bitcoin exchange
  • Coindirect: Peer-to-peer marketplace, wallet, exchange and comprehensive API


Nigeria

  • SureRemit: It's a remittance company concerned with subsidizing the bitcoin to dollar rate. 
  • Naira Exchange: one of the country’s oldest cryptocurrencies exchange
  • Cryptogene: a foundation focused on increasing blockchain technology awareness in Africa
  • Kobocoin: digital currency and payment system similar to Bitcoin, with an African heritage.


Botswana

  • Satoshi Center: It’s a local hub for blockchain technology innovations in Botswana


Zimbabwe

  • Bitmari: It is a Bitcoin wallet app which is essential to a bitcoin miner 
  • Golix: Serves as cryptocurrency exchange or bitcoin converter 


Global companies with African Bitcoin services

  • Paxful: Peer-to-Peer exchange and wallet, available in all African countries, offers more than 300 ways to pay for bitcoins, e.g. with your Worldremit account [read here the extensive description and how-to-guide about Paxful]
  • LocalBitcoins: Peer-to-peer exchange, available in all African countries [read here the extensive description and how-to-guide about LocalBitcoins]
  • Coinmama: Peer-to-peer exchange, available in nearly all African countries

  • Abra: app in the world that allows to buy, store, and invest in many cryptocurrencies all-in-one place securely
  • Bitspark: provides Spark, a secure web and mobile platform for money transfer operators to send and receive payments
  • Bitwala: buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly from your bank acount
  • Etoro: world's leading social trading platform

What’s influencing Bitcoin popularity in Africa?

Apart from the mentioned Bitcoin transaction benefits, the growth of mobile technology across Africa has also been the leading facilitator of the quick absorption of Bitcoin use in the continent.


Despite low per capita use as compared to the developed world, the use of mobile phones is expanding rapidly across Africa than anywhere else in the world.
In most parts of Africa, a mobile phone remains the only means of internet access.

 As a digital medium of exchange, Bitcoin offers African mobile users a genuine way of transacting their businesses hence the rise in popularity.


This recent development is well described in PWC reports and Bloomberg articles.

Cryptocurrency regulations in Africa

African governments are taking a ‘let’s watch’ approach in regulating Bitcoin transactions and any other cryptocurrency. They are doing so as these are still murky waters yet to be explored deeply. However, in the past, their decisions have seemed to flip flop around.


For instance, Kenya has established a special task force to look into its potential and investment benefits.


Nigeria on the other hand, other dabbed the second largest economy in the continent, its government has yo-yoed from warning local banks from transacting using Bitcoin to suggestive policy implementations of its use.


In a new report issued by Ecobank out of the 39 countries surveyed only Zimbabwe and South Africa showed to have a conducive environment for cryptocurrency adoption.

Namibia, however, was the only exception that outright banned any use of cryptocurrency. Everywhere else the governing bodies are caught in a cryptocurrency limbo.

The main issues of concern for such governments are the lack of proper education into the technology and the lurking significant security gaps.

Cryptocurrency expert quotes about bitcoins in Africa:

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Tim Dierckxsens Arkane Network

When dealing with blockchain and cryptocurrencies, you cannot expect every person to be tech savvy and responsible enough to handle something they don’t understand. That is why we take away the pain of dealing blockchain and crypto and make it accessible for mainstream users.

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Miko Matsumura Miko Matsumura

My biggest warnings to anyone exploring this space would be firstly to stick to very well known assets like Bitcoin and secondly to maintain control over your own private keys. Your keys, your crypto.

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Stan Stalnaker Hub Culture

On the network:

Crypto assets like Bitcoin provide a new framework for financial inclusion across Africa. Bitcoin is considered a “layer 1” protocol, so for the average person, use and integration requires a network of other companies to build applications and tools - either as plumbing service providers on “layer 2” or consumer services on “layer 3”. It takes time to build out all the layers, but “layer 3” services are now becoming very robust. This means that an email address or phone number or simple digital identity will soon be all you need to access or move bitcoin and other crypto assets.

On scalability:

Bitcoin has survived many threats to its growth and proven resilience. However over the next two-three years the fundamental motivators for managing the network will shift away from mining nad more towards fees for transaction services. At the moment this remains very expensive, but new technologies like Lightning or bundled transactions will help to lower these costs and provide incentives for new service providers to enter the market.

On identity:

The key to everything in the world of digital assets is identity, and identity is now a “market”. As Africa has large numbers of people without formal identity in the digital world, this presents an enormous market opportunity. Whoever controls identity will control the gateway to the consumer in the digital world. This is why HubID, our identity service that puts ownership of identity into the hands of the user, is so crucial Hub Culture’s long term strategy, not just in Africa, but everywhere.

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Ian Khan IanKhan.com

The rise of cryptocurrencies in Africa and especially in South Africa indicates the scale at which new disruptive Blockchain based technologies add value. When it comes to crypto, the markets determine the and need and while we are still in the early days of an industry less than 10 years old, we are seeing a hube focus on decentralization efforts worldwide.Crypto's are most probably going to have a long term impact that we are yet to anticipate.

The State of Cryptocurrencies in Africa

While the governments slowly digest the reality of Bitcoin and other crypto-coins, Africans across the nations are warming up to the idea of Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin trade has in particularly boomed in Zimbabwe mainly due to its failed financial systems. More individuals are considering Bitcoin as storage of value. This has caused Zimbabwe to have the highest Bitcoin price once globally.


Cryptocurrencies have also become popular among Nigerians. Last year Nigeria’s Peer to peer trading almost increased by 1500 percent.


Without lucid cryptocurrencies regulations in place, Bitcoin players in the African scene are forced to draw inspiration elsewhere. Nonetheless, they remain hopeful that the governments will regulate the digital coins more so synonymously.

Benefits of Bitcoin in Africa’s economy

Bitcoin both as currency and as technology has catapulted African businesses in how they offer their services and transact. Here are some of the significant benefits seen: 

  • New investment option
  • A possible way to make earnings
  • Quick, cheaper and safer solution to remittance
  • Platform for innovative ideas
  • An alternative to the failed fiat currencies and government controls

The future of African Bitcoin market

The future of Africa’s Bitcoin majorly lies on the policies being implemented and those to come.
The biggest worry or what appears to have slowed down policy approvals is the independent nature, ubiquity, and secretiveness in crypto-transactions. Governments feel threatened to exploitation from untraceable digital cash for illegal trade.


However, this won’t stop the revolution of the use Bitcoin underlying technology across the continent especially among millennials.

In regards to innovation, be sure to be on the lookout for more innovative blockchain technologies incorporated the everyday running of your life.