Bitcoin adoption in Africa largely depends on Africans understanding the benefits that the cryptocurrency offers. Startups working with Bitcoin in Africa should conduct educational workshops across the continent to ensure people understand the technology.
Most of the unbanked population in Africa don’t have access to basic internet services. To these people, Bitcoin is still a foreign concept that they only hear about in the news, and in most instances, it’s usually bad news.
Educational workshops would help dispel any negative myths about Bitcoin. If people understand that bitcoin is not a scam, but a new form of currency that is easier to transfer and is free from government-related economic depressions; adoption resistance will reduce.
Integration With Mobile Money
Mobile money has achieved widespread success in Africa. Two-thirds of the sub-Saharan population currently use mobile money services. For Bitcoin to achieve widespread adoption in African countries, startups need to integrate Bitcoin and mobile money.
M-Pesa and Ecocash are the dominating mobile money services in Africa. Any startup dealing with Bitcoin should integrate these mobile money options in their platform.
Take the example of Kenya’s M-Pesa. The mobile money service allows Kenyans to send money via text messages. M-Pesa also has a wide network of agents spread across the country. Bitcoin-powered startups that have integrated their services with M-Pesa have experienced higher levels of adoption.
Kipochi, a bitcoin wallet that allowed Africans to send and receive bitcoin, while at the same time allowing the exchange of bitcoin to Kenyan shillings, had integrated M-Pesa to its services. However, after the Kenyan Central Bank cautioned Kenyans against investing in bitcoin, Safaricom, the company behind M-Pesa, canceled the partnership. Before this cancellation, Kipochi was experiencing an increasing number of users. However, the ban resulted in the death of the company.
Wallettec is an example of a startup that has successfully integrated mobile money with digital wallets. This integration has allowed the company to thrive both in South Africa and Kenya.
Africa is a unique market. In the U.S., companies are installing bitcoin ATMs in grocery stores to promote adoption. In Africa, bitcoin ATMs would achieve minimal success — people rarely use bank ATMs. Bitcoin integrated with mobile money is a better option for Africa as it also allows agents to earn from facilitating transactions.
Bitcoin has the potential to transform African countries. However, adoption rates need to increase drastically for this transformation to occur.
Achieving mass adoption of Bitcoin in Africa will require the efforts of both policymakers and private companies; otherwise, the many benefits that Bitcoin is poised to bring to Africa will remain a dream