That African governments are not now regulating cryptocurrency may be a factor spurring its growth on the continent; however, there is no guarantee that governments will not change their current mindset.
Rather than simply not wanting to, governments may be powerless to regulate cryptocurrency, the Nigerian central bank indicated recently. Currently tackling the country’s 12% inflation rate, the Nigerian apex bank announced that it could not control or regulate Bitcoin, “just the same way no one is going to control or regulate the internet. We don’t own it.”
Fearing a collapse of the banking industry or arbitrary appropriation of money by the government, Africans without access to banks and who live in politically unstable countries could be attracted to cryptocurrency. “Bitcoin transactions help to eliminate the procedural bottlenecks that plague traditional banking and financial services,” Mr. Darko explains.
Some 15 cryptocurrency-related operations began in Africa in the past year alone, reports Mr. Sharma. But South Africa–based Luno Exchange, established in 2013 and now boasting 1.5 million customers in over 40 countries worldwide, is the first to be based in Africa.
Others, particularly cryptocurrency-based remittance services, are popping up in various countries. These services include Abra, which operates in Malawi and Morocco, GeoPay in South Africa, BitMari in Zimbabwe and London-based Kobocoin, which was launched by Nigerian entrepreneur Felix Onyemechi Ugoji.
The Plaas Application is a mobile app that enables farmers to manage their stock on the blockchain.
- Kipochi, a free mobile web app for both smart and dumb phones, set up by Pelle Braendgaard of Denmark
- M-PESA, with over 18 million users in Kenya, is becoming accepted as a form of currency
- EcoCash in Zimbabwe, which is also gaining traction across the continent
- Safaricom, the telecom provider that runs M-PESA
- CoinFling, a service similar to Kipochi set up by US-based Somalian Roble Musse has already secured a deal with M-PESA, but is still in private beta
- BitPesa, a start-up by the South-Sudanese Nhial Majok who now lives in Australia, is also in the process of working out a deal with M-PESA, and is preparing for launch