African nations can’t get enough of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. That’s the message touted by western media at least, which is happy to cheerlead the measures Africans are taking to reclaim their financial freedom and combat inflation. These stories, while true, fail to get to the heart of the manner. Yes, there’s widespread interest in cryptocurrency throughout the continent, but that’s only half the story.
To truly understand the way in which cryptocurrencies are transforming the lives of people, and helping to establish previously unfancied countries such as Nigeria as an unlikely frontier for innovation, it is necessary to dive deeper and look at the projects being undertaken in these lands. Some are hugely ambitious in scope; others are more modest. But in almost every single documented case, the results have been, by any reckoning, deeply impressive.
Start with the Numbers
There is a misconception in the west that Nigeria must be a poor nation due to the continent it lies within, but the reality is very different. While the country has its share of poverty, the oil-rich land also has its wealth, and this is reflected in its economic output. Officially classified as a middle-income country, Nigeria is the world’s 20th-largest nation in terms of purchasing power parity. Not only is Nigeria the largest African economy, but its debt-to-GDP ratio is an impressive 11%, down 8% from 2012.
Nigeria has long been a tech-savvy country. Like its neighbors, it lacks the infrastructure that nations in other global regions take for granted, but a paucity of high-speed internet and overspec’d desktop computers hasn’t been allowed to hinder things. On mobile devices, tablets and anything else that can be connected to a WiFi hotspot (or, more often, cellular data), Nigerians have proven themselves to be a tech-literate and forward-thinking nation. It is no coincidence that many of the country’s students, who obtain visas to study abroad, excel in disciplines such as computing science and engineering.
If ever there were a textbook case of a willingness to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps, it can be found in Nigeria. There is a real can-do spirit among the country’s entrepreneurs, tech evangelists and autodidacts, whose efforts have helped the country become a hub of crypto innovation. The numbers behind bitcoin adoption show that this hypothesis stacks up: Nigerians are trading almost $5 million of bitcoin a week, a 17x increase on a year previously. Interestingly, the amount of bitcoin that Nigeria is trading on a weekly basis correlates with the country’s economic activity in general; its GDP places it 21st in the world (and first in Africa), while its BTC trading volume places it 23rd.
Nigerians have also taken to other cryptocurrencies with aplomb, including Dash, whose relative stability and suitability for microtransactions has seen it attract a vociferous and diverse community. Dash-themed meetups in Lagos and other towns and cities are commonplace, and a number of merchants accept the cryptocurrency. Having DashSquard Nigeria as part of the major Ambassadors of Dash in Nigeria have seen a big growth in the country a feat which was on cointelegraph and DashForceNews. Aside from its utility, Nigerians are also attracted to the principles underpinning decentralized currencies, such as their censorship-resistance. This is demonstrated by the fact that Nigerians run an unusually high number of full bitcoin nodes.
Crazy about Crypto
Reports from Nigeria’s major cryptocurrency exchanges provide a clearer view of the demand for decentralized currencies. David Ajala, who operates NairaEx, is quoted in Bloomberg as saying “The growth has been crazy. It took us two years to get 10,000 customers. Within the last year, we’ve added 90,000.” The country has around a dozen official exchanges in total, and all report similar results.
Looking at the official figures for OTC trading only tells half the story however. Much of the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria takes place face to face or using messaging apps such as Telegram where parties can get to know one another and establish trust. Globally, the crypto space, due to the newfound value of digital assets, has a reputation for attracting unsavory elements including hackers and scammers. Nigerians have largely combatted this through buying and selling the old-fashioned way: by meeting in person, getting to know the other party and then doing business. The need to purchase cryptocurrencies has spawned crypto meetups everywhere from Lagos to small villages and towns. In the process, it’s helped further increase awareness and support for bitcoin and its ilk. Which DashSquard have facilitated
The difference between Nigeria and the West
The real reason why Nigeria is proving itself a testing ground for cryptocurrency isn’t just on account of the trading volume: it’s also due to the many ways in which the people are purposing their newly acquired crypto. In other parts of the world, many investors see crypto as something to ‘hodl’: an asset which is acquired and then locked away on a hardware wallet in a darkened vault till time indefinite. There’s nothing wrong with this strategy from a financial perspective, but it isn’t conducive to increasing cryptocurrency adoption and demonstrating that these decentralized currencies can solve real world problems.
While Nigerians, like citizens in every other country, are saving cryptocurrency, they’re also putting it to work. They’re buying and selling goods and services, both online and in meatspace, and are signing up for crypto-based services that provide everything from loans to remittance and from gift cards to accommodation bookings DashSquard presently having a proposal to further bolster their efforts in Nigeria having helped several mercahnts to accepts Dash In Nigeria. Through a combination of necessity, ingenuity and a deep desire to better their lives, Nigerians have helped transform their country into a breeding ground and a testbed for crypto projects with DashSquard being a frontier for Dash in Nigeria. If these platforms, dApps, exchanges and wallets can gain traction in Nigeria, they can do so in many other African countries, as well as those on other continents.
This article aims to debunk the general disorientation of the world about Nigeria as a poor country. This misconception has chased away viable investors as they do not foresee possible returns on their investment. Being an African Nation classified us as one of the poor countries of the world which is not true. The notion that Nigerians are poor and rejected is only valid in historical books and any persons who is current with the recent happening in Nigeria will say otherwise with respect to our global influence.