By Samuel Wan
Bitcoin is being used as a fail-safe mechanism during times of natural disaster in Africa.
According to TechCrunch, the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May caused mass displacement of families in the surrounding region.
In the chaos of the situation, Bitcoin was being used as a payment mechanism to keep the local economy transacting during the turbulence of the situation.
Bitcoin at the grassroots
Commenting on the situation, the founder of Chainglob, a crypto news outlet, Gloire Wanzavalere, said he went to a temporary refugee campsite that had sprung up to see how he could help.
Wanzavalere discovered that most people had traded their phones and so their means to transact with crypto in exchange for food. In the rush to escape danger, many had also left behind their belongings, including identity documents. This proved troublesome when trying to open bank accounts and acquiring new mobile devices.
Inspired by the Bitcoin Beach project in El Salvador, Wanzavalere said, this demonstrated that everyday people, even people in dire situations, can use Bitcoin, which gave him the push to do the same but under the circumstances of a natural disaster.
“Coming to their aid with bitcoin was a more powerful act than any marketing campaign could be. That’s when we told ourselves, OK, we’re going to do this in Congo.”
He encouraged local merchants to accept Bitcoin, and thanks to the Lightning Network, transactions were quick and cheap. In turn, this provided a lifeline for those with no access to fiat.
Crypto inflows in Africa spike
Over the last 12 months, due to various factors such as crumbling financial legacy infrastructure, crypto, as an alternative to traditional banking in Africa, has been gaining ground.
As pointed out by weforum.org, more than half of Africans, 57% to be precise, do not have access to financial services. And with a young and tech-savvy population, Bitcoin adoption has flourished.
Data from on-chain analysts, Chainalysis revealed that Africa’s share of the global crypto market is the smallest by market size. However, over the last year to June 2021, peer-to-peer (P2P) volume has spiked by 1,200%, making Africa the most significant region when it comes to P2P trading.
“In raw numbers, this translates to $105.6 billion worth of crypto assets between July 2020 and June 2021, accounting for 1,200% crypto value growth. Using this metric, Africa has topped peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms in terms of transaction volume across all regions.”
As mentioned by IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson, thanks to blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption rates, Africa will leapfrog the rest of the world in the next decade.
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