Why Africa Continues to Lag Behind in Cryptocurrency Adoption

Africa continues to dominate Google Trends search interest for “bitcoin,” but that has not translated into widespread adoption of cryptocurrency by users and businesses. Apart from opaque regulation and a lack of awareness, one of the major reasons for this failure has been the expansive use of mobile money on the continent.

Also read: Report: 87% of Crypto Exchanges May Be Falsifying Volume

Crypto Adoption Disappoints, Even as Africa Dominates Bitcoin Search Interest

According to Google Trends, the biggest search interest for bitcoin in the world is by potential investors from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya – the three biggest cryptocurrency markets in Africa. That dominance is, however, predominantly limited to trading activities on exchanges. On a few occasions, bitcoin may be used as a means of payment, mostly to overseas suppliers.

But despite that world-leading interest, Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in everyday BTC use and adoption. The cryptocurrency has found it difficult to break the stranglehold of convenience, simplicity and efficiency that, like a magnet, draws millions of Africans to mobile money. The continent of 1.2 billion people is home to over 50 percent of the world’s mobile money services.

Why Africa Continues to Lag Behind in Cryptocurrency AdoptionGoogle Trends chart for the keyword “bitcoin”

For example, with a basic telephone handset, one can send or receive money via SMS anywhere within a particular country, without the need of an internet connection. By comparison, you will need a smartphone and a secure internet connection to complete a cryptocurrency transaction. While internet use has risen sharply in the past 20 years, users from Africa account for just 10 percent of the global total, making the case for crypto on the continent even more cryptic. Also, erratic power supplies in many countries continue to impede the internet access on which cryptocurrency largely depends.

Beating Mobile Money at Its Own Game

Vin Armani, founder and CTO of Cointext, an internet-free wallet service that allows users to send or receive bitcoin cash (BCH) via SMS – just like mobile money – believes his service could rival mobile money in the continent. In Africa, Cointext is currently available only in South Africa, and it’s unclear how many people are actually using the service there. “We are preparing to make a major announcement that will give us global coverage (in every country),” Armani told news.Bitcoin.com.

Why Africa Continues to Lag Behind in Cryptocurrency Adoption

“We’re currently working on an integration that will make us available for smartphones throughout Africa. We’re also working on SMS solutions for a few other African countries,” another official from Cointext explained separately.

Elisha Owusu Akyaw, a 17-year-old Ghanian crypto investor and influencer, has made a fortune investing in bitcoin. He believes that “Cryptocurrencies should probably integrate with mobile banking platforms.” Akyaw might have a point. The mobile money sensation has grown very deeply in African economics to the extent, perhaps, of defining its people.

“The power of financial technology to expand access to and use of accounts is demonstrated most persuasively in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the World Bank’s Global Findex Database detailed in its financial inclusion survey, which found 21 percent of adults on the continent now have a mobile money account. This is “nearly twice the share in 2014 and easily the highest of any region in the world.”

If that is not enough, cryptocurrencies will likely have to fight tooth and nail to gain any reasonable market share in the mobile money-dominated payment systems in Africa, a region often touted as the next frontier for virtual currencies. In Zimbabwe, publicly listed Econet Wireless controls 95 percent of the mobile money market share through its Ecocash platform. The seven year-old service is so successful that almost every government department depends on it for electronic payments.

Why Africa Continues to Leg Behind in Cryptocurrency Adoption

With more than six million users in the Southern African country, Ecocash has processed over $23 billion worth of transactions since launch in September 2011. It boasts more than 32,000 agents (merchants) throughout Zimbabwe. This is the sort of entrenched competition that cryptocurrencies will have to contend with. There will be 725 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa by 2020, according to the GSM Association, who could either plug into crypto or mobile money.

Cumbersome Registration Processes Dissuade Crypto Use

Bernard Parah, a 26 year-old entrepreneur from Lagos, Nigeria, recognizes this challenge and opportunity. Two years ago, he founded Bitnob Quickserve, a platform that allows Africans to buy vouchers and reedem them for BTC without the need to complete KYC or AML procedures. Parah posits that one of the biggest hindrances to cryptocurrency adoption is the labyrinth of verifications required by exchanges at registration.

“We believe that [the service] will reduce the entry barrier for many people who want to try out bitcoins here in Africa,” Parah told news.Bitcoin.com. “Onboarding users needs to be made simpler. Many first time users give up at the point where they have to upload their personal identity details for verification.”

Why Africa Continues to Leg Behind in Cryptocurrency Adoption

Parah also pointed to ease of use and the fear of loss of funds without recovery as stumbling blocks. “A bitcoin address looks like a foreign language to new users,” he notes. “Many people are not ready to be their own banks, they would rather settle for convenience over security,” said Parah, who reckons there’s need for more awareness and education about crypto.

A litany of fake bitcoin schemes have not helped the cryptocurrency cause either. In Uganda, for example, thousands of people have fallen victim to a number of Ponzi schemes, including the D9 Club, which promised to pay members in BTC. The scheme, now collapsed, masqueraded as a sports trading company, promising members hefty weekly payouts in bitcoin on initial investment of between $250 and $2,000. “Scams give Africa [and crypto] a bad name,” decried Chimezie Chuta, an IT specialist and bitcoin enthusiast from Nigeria. Regulation has, as always, been a sticky issue where bitcoin is concerned.

What do think about cryptocurrency adoption in Africa? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags in this story
adoption, Africa, Bernard Parah, Bitcoin, Bitnob Quickserve, Cointext, Cryptocurrency, Ecocash, Edonef Wireless, Elisha Owusu Akyaw, Internet use, Mobile banking, Mobile money, Vin Armani
Jeffrey Gogo

Jeffrey Gogo is an award winning financial journalist based in Harare, Zimbabwe. A former deputy business editor with the Zimbabwe Herald, the country’s biggest daily, Gogo has more than 15 years of wide-ranging experience covering Zimbabwe’s financial markets, economy and company news. He first encountered bitcoin in 2014, and began covering cryptocurrency markets in 2017


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8 Useful Browser Extensions for Cryptocurrency Users

Extensions, also known as plugins, provide a one-click way to customize your web browser. From filtering out offensive words to blocking unwanted ads, there’s a browser extension for that. Cryptocurrency users have a particular need for plugins to enhance their privacy, perform crypto payments in-browser, and check market prices. Whether you use Chrome, Brave, Firefox, Safari, or Opera, some of the following extensions may come in handy.

Also read: Craig ‘Satoshi’ Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain Patents

Privacy and Precautions

While plugins can add utility and convenience, remember that you are installing third-party code into your browser. Plugin repositories such as the Chrome Web Store endeavor to check all submissions, but nefarious code has been known to slip through the net. Check the user ratings and number of installs for any extension you’re considering, and be wary of adding new or untested plugins whose authenticity is unverified.

Eight Useful Browser Extensions for Cryptocurrency Users

Privacy-enhancing plugins form the starter kit for most web users, particularly those who use cryptocurrency. If you’ve just installed a new browser, the first extensions you should consider include Adblock (Chrome’s most popular plugin by some distance), Privacy Badger for blocking trackers, and if you’re an EU resident tired of popups, you might wanna include I Don’t Care About Cookies. These aren’t the only browser extensions that perform these tasks, but are the most popular of their kind.

Crypto Wallet Extensions

If you’re looking to sign transactions, access dapps, and send and receive cryptocurrency as you browse, you’ll need an extension that will turn your humble web browser into a crypto wallet. Ethereum users have Metamask for all their needs, while Bitcoin Cash fans have Badger. Metamask is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Brave, and allows ETH and ERC20 tokens to be sent and received, as well as controlling interactions with DEXs such as Ethfinex Trustless and IDEX. Its web wallet can also be used on platforms such as Decentraland, Augur, Veil and Guesser. For entering Ethereum’s version of the decentralized web appears, Metamask is your gateway.

Eight Useful Browser Extensions for Cryptocurrency UsersBadger

Badger, meanwhile, allows users to store and send BCH as well as the SLP tokens that are built upon the Bitcoin Cash protocol. The noncustodial web wallet facilitates in-app purchases and micropayments using BCH, and grants access to Bitcoin Cash decentralized apps. BTC users wishing to tip fellow Twitter users via Lightning Network can use the Tippin Chrome extension.

8 Useful Browser Extensions for Cryptocurrency UsersBitcoin Tab

Market Data Plugins

If you’d like to check the markets without whipping out your phone and firing up your portfolio app, Bitcoin Tab will do the honors. The Chrome extension draws real-time news and pricing directly from Blockmodo, as well as community developments and social media chatter. It provides a snapshot of what’s going on across the industry, at a glance. Other options include an unofficial Coinmarketcap plugin. There’s also the minimalist Cryptex, which provides a beautiful background that displays the price of three cryptocurrencies whenever you open a new tab. Crypto Tracker is also worth a look.

Eight Useful Browser Extensions for Cryptocurrency UsersCoinmarketcap plugin

Finally, for cryptocurrency users who hate censorship, Dissenter by Gab will spice up the web by enabling you to freely comment on every site you visit.

What are your go-to browser plugins? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoin Tab, Badger, and CMC.

Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support these products/services.

Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned companies or any of their affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Kai Sedgwick

Kai’s been playing with words for a living since 2009 and bought his first bitcoin at $19. It’s long gone. He’s previously written white papers for blockchain startups and is especially interested in P2P exchanges and DNMs.


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Craig ‘Satoshi’ Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain Patents

The race to file blockchain patents has accelerated lately with one specific firm, Nchain Holdings, attempting to capture hundreds of distributed ledger-related patents. According to reports, self-proclaimed Satoshi – Craig Wright – and his Nchain business claim to have filed 666 patent applications to date, capturing a gigantic portfolio of intellectual property.

Also Read: Jeff Garzik Subpoenaed in Kleiman Bitcoin Lawsuit Against Craig Wright

So-Called Satoshi’s Quest to Patent the Blockchain

The notorious Craig Wright, a man who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, is continuing his effort to obtain hundreds of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related patents. Wright is the chief scientist of Nchain but is best known for his attempts to prove he created Bitcoin over a decade ago.

Craig 'Satoshi' Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain PatentsCraig Wright, the chief scientist of Nchain Holdings, has filed for hundreds of patents over the years. Wright has also claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto on numerous occasions.

Nchain has been relentlessly filing for digital currency and blockchain patents. According to a report published on March 7, Craig Wright and Nchain Holdings have applied for a total of 666 patents and they proudly announced this watershed moment after reaching this symbolic number.

“In fact, Craig Wright and Nchain have so many patent applications that we have now reached a fiendish milestone,” explains Nchain executive Jimmy Nguyen in the recent blog post. He continued:

Last month, Nchain filed patent application number 666 — That’s right — the number of the Beast, Satan himself.

Despite Nguyen’s claim, it’s hard to confirm the exact number of patents filed in Wright and Nchain’s name. The last report concerning Wright and Nchain’s patent acquisition was published by the news outlet The Next Web, with data stemming from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The report states that since August 2017 the organization has found roughly 155 patent applications filed by Wright. Nchain has filed and been granted numerous patents over the last few years, to the extent that the relatively unknown company seems to have more patents than most financial incumbents. This includes top blockchain patent holders such as Alibaba, Bank of America, Mastercard, IBM, and Accenture.

Craig 'Satoshi' Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain PatentsBoth Wright and Nchain executive Jimmy Nguyen speak publicly about these patent filings on a regular basis.

Moreover, Nchain’s blockchain patent filings can be found throughout many patent and trademark offices across the globe in countries like the U.K., U.S., Japan, and China. The intellectual property requests include concepts like a blockchain counting system and a method for use in secure voting, an operating system for blockchain-based Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, and an agent-based Turing complete feedback system built within a blockchain network. Those concepts are just scratching the surface when it comes to patent filings found peppered throughout the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office.

Craig 'Satoshi' Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain Patents

Technology Protection or Weapons for Patent Wars?

The large amount of filings begs the question: Why does Nchain Holdings and the self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto need so many patents? According to Nchain, intellectual property (IP) is being obtained to protect the technology. Back in July of 2018, when Mastercard acquired a patent that facilitates anonymous cryptocurrency transactions, Coingeek’s Calvin Ayre stated: “This is precisely why Nchain has to go the patent route … to protect technology they invent to release open source.” In Nguyen’s latest blog post, the executive said that Nchain will “encourage companies to build on BSV where it will be free to use many of Nchain’s IP assets.”

“With hard work and great expense, Nchain has produced what we believe is the world’s largest and best quality blockchain patent portfolio in the world,” Nguyen’s blog post details. “Nchain will use its IP portfolio for good, not evil, to help the Bitcoin SV ecosystem.”

Many cryptocurrency users detest the idea of using patents within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, which is traditionally dominated by open source projects. With Visa, Mastercard, Bank of America, and Nchain, the range of patent applications lodged today is quite wide. Many cryptocurrency fans believe that patents are part of a strategic move to threaten developers, startups and smaller firms for years to come. Some digital asset proponents also believe the community should rally together to stop patent filers and large corporations from stealing prior art. A good majority of bitcoiners are not too worried about these patents for the specific reason that Bitcoin is prior art and technology that cannot be patented.

Craig 'Satoshi' Wright Claims to Have Filed 666 Blockchain Patents

However, some individuals have voiced concern over Wright and Nchain’s patent filing due to his dubious claims of being Bitcoin’s inventor. The greater Bitcoin community and most crypto fans in general do not believe Wright is Satoshi as he has been accused of plagiarism and condemned for creating phony blog posts, PGP keys, and allegedly doctoring many contracts and emails. However, skeptics like libertarian author Wendy McElroy believe that the “ignorance of the audience” and “knowing how to game the system” may maximize Wright’s chance of winning.

What do you think about Nchain and Craig Wright’s attempt to gather a vast collection of patents for the company’s IP portfolio? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Lens.org, WIPO.

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666 patents, Accenture, Alibaba, Bank of America, Bitcoin Inventor, blockchain patents, BSV, Craig Wright, IBM, Intellectual Property, Inventions, ip, Jimmy Nguyen, MasterCard, N-Featured, nChain, Nchain Holdings, Patents, Satoshi, WIPO
Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open source code, and decentralized applications. Redman has written thousands of articles for news.Bitcoin.com about the disruptive protocols emerging today.

Hubi Round 4

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Blockchain Art Registry Acquires Database With Info From 4K Auction Houses

The blockchain-based art registry startup Artory has acquired auction house database Auction Club, according to a tweet from Artory on March 21.

Auction Club is a subscription-only database containing sales information from more than 4,000 international auction houses.

According to industry media outlet The Art Newspaper, the move is set to make Auction Club’s sales data — reportedly gathered from around 250 businesses in 40 countries — public for the first time. The data will be available in Artory’s registry beginning in May, the report states.

Artory’s CEO, Nanne Dekking — formerly the vice chairman of Sotheby’s New York — was quoted in the publication as saying: “We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to acquire millions of data quickly that we can leverage to improve our products.”

Replying to concerns voiced by the publication that the aggregation of a huge amount of data under one company could contradict the idea of the distributed nature of blockchain technology, Paul Stabe, Artory’s chief product officer, underlined:

“The decentralisation of blockchain is a security benefit, not a solution. And for the art world, being able to leverage blockchain to provide access to credible data that are free is a huge benefit.”

In October 2018, Christie’s — the auction house with a history going back over 250 years — announced a pilot scheme with Artory to use blockchain for auction data. The partnership proposed using the technology to provide details and certificates of purchases to buyers.

Last fall, one of the world’s most famous art galleries, the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia, launched the blockchain-based project “My Tretyakov. ” The project allows individuals as well as enterprises to make a private donations, as Cointelegraph reported.

Bitwise Tells US SEC That 95% of Volume on Unregulated Crypto Exchanges Is Suspect

95 percent of volume on unregulated exchanges appears to be fake or non-economic in nature, an analysis from cryptocurrency index fund provider Bitwise Asset Management has argued in a report dated March 20.

Bitwise reported its data and claims to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as part of a proposed rule change for its application to launch a Bitcoin (BTC) Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).

The analysis opens with the argument that while an ostensible ~$6 billion in daily traded volume for Bitcoin is reported across the spot markets:

“Under the hood the exchanges that report the highest volumes are unrecognizable. The vast majority of this reported volume is fake and/or non-economic wash trading.”

Bitwise sources its data from the widely-cited crypto statistics tracker CoinMarketCap (CMC), which it claims includes a large amount of this suspect data, “thereby giving a fundamentally mistaken impression” of the true size of the Bitcoin market.

Bitwise claims that roughly 95 percent of reported volume is fake and that the real market for BTC is thus “significantly smaller, more orderly, and more regulated than commonly understood” — amounting in reality to $273 million.

Bitwise first analyzes regulated exchanges — using Coinbase Pro as a case study — to reveal the nature of the trading patterns it deems to be trustworthy. Key characteristics reportedly include an “unequal and streaky” mix of red (sell orders) and green (buy orders) trades, whose distribution fluctuates considerably at any given time.

The report further argues that trading patterns on Coinbase Pro reveal “a greater-than-random number of round trade sizes,” which it characterizes as “more natural,” typically human behavior. Bitwise also analyzes spread as a parameter, noting that:

“It’s [the spread is] $0.01. At the time this screenshot was taken, bitcoin was trading at $3,419. That means bitcoin was trading at a 0.0003% spread, making it amongst the tightest quoted spread of any financial instrument in the world.”

Coinbase Pro reported around $27 million in daily traded volume of BTC at the time of Bitwise’s analysis — as compared with $480 million reported by Coinbene. The latter is used by Bitwise to demonstrate the patterns typical of what it characterizes as “suspicious exchanges.”

Suspect signs include an implausibly perfect alternating pattern of green and red trades, and a lack of round number or small value trades. On Coinbene, buy and sell orders also appear in timestamped pairs, with one offsetting the other. Moreover, the spread on Coinbene at the time of Bitwise’s analysis was $34.74: “that compares to $0.01 on Coinbase Pro. It is surprising that an exchange claiming 18x more volume than Coinbase Pro would have a spread that is 3400x larger.”

Suspect exchanges also reportedly demonstrate consistent volume 24-hours a day, as opposed to regulated exchanges, where volume corresponds to waking and sleeping hours.

Bitwise’s report concludes that its overall findings “demonstrate that this ETF application [for its Bitwise Bitcoin ETF Trust] meets both” of the SEC’s conditions for how a BTC ETF could satisfy the requirements of the Exchange Act.

As reported this week, new research from trading analytics platform The Tie proposed that almost 90 percent of crypto exchanges’ reported trade volumes — of all supported cryptocurrencies — were false.

Swiss Federal Council Initiates Blockchain Law Consultation Period

The Swiss Federal Council has started its consultation period on the adaptation of federal law for blockchain development, according to an official press release published on March 22.

By initiating the consultation, the Federal Council intends to improve legal certainty over blockchain applications in order to build a basis for regulatory framework for the industry in Switzerland, particularly in the financial sector.

According to the document, the Federal Council’s consultation will last until the end of June 2019.

In mid-December 2018, the Swiss Federal Council adopted a report on the legal framework for blockchain in the financial sector, stating that the existing financial law in the country is suitable for the blockchain industry, but needs some specific adjustments. The authority advocated for better legal clarity for rights holders on a blockchain network and ensuring that decentralized trading platforms are subject to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act.

Following the announcement, the Council has now released a draft consultation document, proposing a number of adjustments, including the establishment of digital registration of rights in the Swiss Code of Obligations, as well as the segregation of crypto assets in the event of bankruptcy in the Federal Law on Debt Collection and Bankruptcy.

The Council also proposed creating a new authorization category for distributed ledger technology (DLT) trading facilities in the market infrastructure law in order to provide a regulated financial market. Apart from that, the authority suggested an adaptation of the future Financial Institutions Act in order to set up a licence for operating a trading facility as a securities firm.

The Swiss Federal Council stated that AML policies are set to be incorporated into the planned amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance as part of the ongoing revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Earlier this week, the Federal Assembly of the Swiss government approved a motion to instruct the Federal Council to adapt existing legislation for cryptocurrency regulation.