Bitcoin Challenge: Companies Tackling The African Market

BitcoinBitcoin adoption in Africa faces a unique struggle not found in any other market. Rare factors that both help and hurt the digital currencies adoption come into play in just about every country on the dark continent.

There are a range of factors that may help drive Bitcoin adoption in Africa; Local banking appears to be of little use in some areas of the continent, with only 2% of firms in Nigeria using banks to finance investment; Government fiat currencies are often unstable, Zimbabwe abandoned their national currency all together in 2009; And legacy remittance services charge fees that are among the highest in the world, with sub-saharan Africa rates costing 10% on average.

Not only does this sound like an ideal breeding ground for bitcoin disruption, 85% of Africans already have cellphones, lagging behind the US by only 6%. According to SafariCom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya and Tanzania, smartphone usage on their network grew by 98% last year. Any cell phone, smart or not, provides access to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

SafariCom has been targeting this mobile rich user base for almost a decade. The company provides a mobile-phone based money transfer and microfinancing service launched in 2007, called M-Pesa. In March 2013 Safaricom reported that M-Pesa had 15.2 million customers, with revenue from the service increasing 22.8% during 2014. Read more