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.
Google 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.
“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