We have always viewed money from a different standpoint. How and what money should be in today’s world is a very complex question. This makes me remember my experience with PayPal in the year 2012. As a freelancer based in Ibadan, West Africa. I was looking for a means of accepting payment for services I rendered online. Eventually, I came across PayPal, which ticks all the boxes for me.
But; unfortunately, I ended up using another payment service. By that time, PayPal does not accept sign-ups from the country where I live. And for that reason, I have to forgo customers who don’t have other means of payment except for PayPal. It was not just something that affected me alone, but many Africans who are into freelancing business.
In 2016, when I first heard of bitcoin as a new system of payment online. That is not censorship-resistant, nor is it restricted to a country, or a geographical location. I was skeptical. My curiosity led me to search on the web to find out for myself. My encounter with bitcoin opened the world to me; let me work, pursue my passion and gave me the chance to meet with great people.
The beginning of a transformative change.
In innovation, Africa has always played catch up. And money has not been an exception. The innovation of money in Africa, and how it is used to facilitate transactions, has always followed the footsteps of the developed countries. From paper cash in the form of banknotes to using credit/debit cards etc.
But for the first time, that narrative is changing. We can take part in the global market without having to go through intermediaries. With digital currencies – which represent a continuation in the evolution of money. Anyone from anywhere can use or access these currencies.
If you compare digital currencies like bitcoin to the local currencies we are used to, you would notice the huge gap existing between them. One of the clear distinction digital currencies like bitcoin has over fiat currency; it is decentralised and borderless in nature. That I can be my own bank, send and receive money without passing through third parties like a bank, still amazes me.
People have attempted to define what digital currencies like bitcoin represent. Some refer to it as a store of value, others see it as a speculative investment. For me and my colleagues in Africa, bitcoin represents true freedom and money. Breaking out of the bondage of being restricted to only a handful of fiat currencies and the ability to receive payment for goods and services from anywhere in the world was a big win for us.
How bitcoin is used to empower Africa.
The transformational change that comes with digital currencies like bitcoin is too many to mention. Despite the negative perception surrounding them. And considering how it has been a target for fraudulent activities such as ransomware, Ponzi schemes amongst others, however, these hasn’t lessened the importance of bitcoin or changed the fact that digital currencies are here to stay.
There may not be public acceptance of these currencies yet, but bitcoin and other crypto are already doing so much in Africa, then you least expect. The #BuildWithBitcoin initiative by PaxFul – a P2P market place for bitcoin & crypto is a notable example of how digital currencies is being used to empower Africans.
Digital currency such as stable coins has become a haven for Africans because of the frequent devaluation of our local currencies, which is often subject to hyperinflation. Those who have discovered bitcoin early, have learned the art of hedging their money from the falling nature of these currencies. The list continues…
Digital currencies are the new trend and a viable option for our local currencies. Who could ask for a better alternative?