While much of the recent crypto-related news headlines have focused on the fluctuating Bitcoin price, the interest in Bitcoin in Africa has continued to grow at a rapid pace. Paxful, a leading global cryptocurrency-marketplace, reports that its total number of transactions from African consumers has risen to roughly R948 million per month.
Africa now accounts for the highest number of new subscribers to the portal per month. The appetite for cryptocurrency is widespread. Over the past year, transactions on the Paxful platform from South Africa increased by 25%, by 60% in Nigeria and by up to 100% in other parts of the continent. For Africa as a whole, Paxful has seen a 225% increase in users in the last 12 months.
Millennials drive the future
The demand for cryptocurrency is notably characterised by a marked increase in the 18-30 age group. The average Bitcoin purchase is R871, while the average Paxful wallet transaction is currently under R435.
Without the scale and type of traditional banking infrastructure available in the developed world, many parts of the continent are already au fait with mobile money payment systems. African millennials are finding that cryptocurrencies offer alternative convenient and cost-effective access to the global financial system.
A peer to peer revolution
Africans are using cryptocurrency to satisfy both personal finance needs and entrepreneurial ventures; transferring goods, services, and money domestically as well as globally. For some, virtual currencies have the benefit of acting as a hedge against constantly fluctuating local bourse.
Virtual currencies also serve as an effective and more profitable alternative to their local currency. Consumers tend to use virtual currencies to buy goods, and in return, merchants may double their profit as the price of Bitcoin tends to fluctuate. There is also an emerging generation of Africans buying crypto as investment vehicles into promising blockchain start-ups. A relatively small number of Africans trade digital currencies speculatively for profit.
“The adoption of Bitcoin across the globe re-affirms our belief that crypto will take its place as a mainstream financial system. As has been the case with other disruptive financial tech innovations like mobile money, Africa is leading the peer-to-peer financial revolution. Our aim is to continue to partner with consumers to expand access the global financial system,” says Ray Youssef, Chief Executive Officer of Paxful.
Further investment in Africa
Paxful has always believed in the potential of Bitcoin to benefit people across Africa. In addition to supporting blockchain entrepreneurs across the continent, in 2017 Paxful launched #BuiltWithBitcoin, a campaign encouraging the cryptocurrency sector to contribute funds for humanitarian projects. The International non-profit organization, Zam Zam Water, is the implementation partner for the program. Paxful has committed to building 100 schools across the continent, as well as water wells and community gardens for sustainable agriculture.
“As a company, we’ve learned a lot from African consumers. For instance, we’ve improved our mobile capabilities to cater to the widespread use of smartphones on the continent. Our experience in Africa has strengthened our capability to serve consumers regardless of geographical location or origin,” says Artur Schaback, Chief Operating Officer Paxful.
Bitcoin for good
As part of its #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative, Paxful recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise R1.3million required to build a primary school in Rwanda, following its initial investment in a nursery school in the country. Paxful donated R263 000 worth of Bitcoin to kick-start the crowdfunding campaign and has committed to matching all donations from the crypto community until the target is reached.
The first school sponsored by the #BuiltWithBitcoin program is located in Kasebigege Village in Rwanda’s Bugesera District. Paxful donated R660 000 in Bitcoin for the construction of the nursery school in 2017. It serves children aged 3-6 in an area of 7,500 villagers. The school boasts a 35 000-liter water tank, portable irrigation and a water-catchment system which can also be used by local farmers. Teachers are provided with educational materials and salaries while students receive free uniforms and lunches. #Builtwithcoin has also expanded to provide scholarships to women in the Middle East.