Africa is fast emerging as one of the planet’s centers for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency interest. Recent weeks have seen several developments that show a thriving industry on the continent.
Developments include the addition of USDT to Africa’s largest peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace, the expansion of crypto exchange and gift card services into new countries, and a major South African bank joining the Contour Blockchain Network.
Meanwhile, Google Trends data demonstrates Africa’s growing interest in digital assets.
Cryptocurrency Industry Continues African Expansion
For years, proponents of the technology have speculated that cryptocurrencies may find greater adoption among those without access to modern banking services. According to ItNewsAfrica.com, as many as 66% of sub-Saharan Africans are “unbanked.”
Those who lack the banking services used in the so-called ‘developed world’ are largely excluded from an increasingly digital global economy. However, crypto now appears to be changing that.
Crypto Exchange and Gift Card Services Spread
Two developments over the last week will allow more Africans to spend cryptocurrency at various online retailers. Firstly, the African-focused crypto exchange and gift card platform Yellow Card announced that it would begin offering its services in Tanzania.
The company allows users to buy or sell crypto either online or instore. It has proved popular with those sending remittance payments back home.
Recently, a Reuters report stated that the platform’s volumes had increased five-fold in 2020. Yellow Card says it handled $25 million in cryptocurrency payments in August alone.
In related news, FastBitcoins, a service also allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin online and in real-world locations, partnered with Flexepin. According to Flexepin’s website, the company provides cash top-up voucher services, allowing those without bank accounts to shop online.
The partnership, announced on Sept. 24, significantly increases FastBitcoins’ coverage. It can now serve 14 African nations.
Additional Developments Help Drive African Interest
Recently, Africa’s most popular peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange, Paxful, added trading in USDT. The incorporation of the stablecoin will reportedly help protect Paxful users from not only the volatility of BTC but also from fluctuations in national currencies.
Traditional banks in African are also becoming increasingly interested in blockchain technology. Highlighting this was last week’s announcement that South Africa’s Standard Bank is joining the Singapore-based Contour blockchain trade finance network.
Contour uses the R3 Corda blockchain to increase efficiency in bank processing times. Standard Bank is the first bank on the African continent to join the trade finance ecosystem.
Interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency appears to be thriving in Africa thanks to developments like those detailed above. Google Trends data shows that the three top regions searching for the term “Bitcoin” are Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana.
Meanwhile, for the term “cryptocurrency,” Nigeria and Uganda occupy the first and second positions. In the sixth, seventh, and ninth places, respectively, are Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya.