Category Archives: m-pesa

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African Crypto Movement Learns from Past to Push Forward

An examination of Google Trends this year illustrates how the African continent is waking up to cryptocurrency-related products and exploring the sector for innovative opportunities.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow, enabled by the presence of a greater number of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership unique to the continent of Africa, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Google searches reveal that Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are frantically searching online when it comes down to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin.

The M-pesa mobile money platform that started over 10 years ago as a Vodaphone pilot scheme for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania, is now an African giant. It is convenience that has made a massive impact in these countries, allowing users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services from their mobile phone.

So big has the company become it has now reached South Africa and further afield in Afghanistan, India, Romania and Albania.

The mobile phone has become Africa’s most significant innovation, connecting people across the continent in remote regions, also providing a host of innovative apps, thereby making more conventional and expensive forms of communication obsolete. Africa’s early steps in the cryptocurrency space, with crypto users doing their business through P2P networks, avoiding the limitations of banks and exchanges, neither of which many people have access to, show that the mobile phone is key.

Michael Kimani, the chairperson of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, draws a comparison to the early days of M-pesa to the current movement towards crypto and P2P solutions as users innovate to circumnavigate the drawbacks of trading. In the pre-M-Pesa period, people would trade airtime between themselves to escape inflated telecoms charges. He feels similar is happening now with crypto trading. He argues:

“These informal networks, resemble the airtime currency informal networks of pre-2006 that powered remittance payment networks before M-Pesa became a thing.”

A further accelerant could be just around the corner with last month’s launch of an African-focused cryptocurrency exchange called Coindirect. Co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration.

In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:

“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”

The South African exchange allows users to buy, convert, store, send or sell more than 40 cryptocurrencies, combining a peer-to-peer marketplace, wallets and an exchange to allow customers to access cryptocurrencies from their local currency.

 

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Jonathan Stacke – Bitcoin in India

Jonathan Stacke – Bitcoin in India:

Jonathan Stacke writes on Bitcoin in India for his latest article on The Genesis Block (@TheGenesisBlock). Excerpts:

“With talk of inflation and capital controls familiar to the bitcoin community, one might think Indian citizens would be jumping at the opportunity to adopt the digital currency, yet the hurdles to wide-scale bitcoin proliferation in India may be significant for the foreseeable future. While demand for gold has grown in India, the multiple applications it offers culturally and industrially in addition to acting as an alternative store of wealth may mean that such demand does not translate to bitcoin.”

“[A correlation exists] between bitcoin adoption and internet penetration in a given country. India, with just 12.6% of its citizens having internet access, has the sixth lowest internet penetration of the 100 largest countries. Despite that fact, the size of the total Indian population – more than 1.2 billion – makes India the third largest internet-using population in the world, with 150 million users, behind only China and the US.”

“It is possible to buy and sell bitcoin through a number of websites including buysellbitco.in and there does appear to be a healthy LocalBitcoins market.”

“Not to be overlooked is India’s mobile phone penetration of 71%, or approximately 900 million total users. […] only 44 million Indians are smartphone subscribers.”

“M-PESA, the mobile payment system that has changed the lives of millions in Kenya recently rolled out in India. […] If mobile payment systems like these gain traction in India as they have in Africa, acceptance of digital currency would prove to be a less significant hurdle.”

“India had the highest remittance volume in the world in 2011 with $58 billion, or 3.1% of GDP, according to the World Bank.”

“Forward-thinking companies like Buttercoin have recently stepped in to apply the potential of bitcoin to these markets […]”

“The Reserve Bank of India has stated that it does not immediately intend to regulate bitcoin, but their historic actions indicate that may change soon enough […]”

 – http://thegenesisblock.com/bitcoin-in-india-drivers-and-barriers-to-adoption
 – (Further discussion of this article)

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Emily Spaven – Kipochi Links Bitcoin With M-PESA

Emily Spaven – Kipochi Links Bitcoin With M-PESA:

Finance author Emily Spaven (@EmilySpaven) describes the launch of Kipochi (@KipochiPay), a Bitcoin wallet that provides interchange to and from M-PESA.  Excerpts:

“Kipochi has launched a product that allows people in Africa to send and receive bitcoins, plus convert them to and from the Kenyan currency M-Pesa.”

“Kipochi works on all mobile phones as it has SMS, USSD and HTML5 frontends, so there is no requirement for users to have the most up-to-date handsets.”

“Pelle Braendgaard, co-founder of Kipochi [said that] M-Pesa has been around in Kenya for years now, so mobile money is a part of everyday life in the country, which means it will be easy for Kenyans to accept digital currency as the choice for international payments.”

“Kipochi’s goal is to make it easier for people in these [communities of expatriates from Kenya and foreigners living and working in Kenya] to send and receive funds through the bitcoin network.”

“LocalBitcoins.com has also recently turned its attention to M-Pesa, making this option available to traders in Kenya and Tanzania.”

“‘The [tens of thousands of] M-Pesa agents are the target market of LocalBitcoins.com as well,’” [explained  founder Jeremias Kangas].”

 – http://bit.ly/15bcWnr
 – http://www.Kipochi.com
 – http://bit.ly/132zNi5 (Further discussion of Kipochi)

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