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Africa's interest in Bitcoin on the rise

Africa’s interest in Bitcoin on the rise

Since 2011, online search interest in Bitcoin has shifted from the West to the East and now to Africa - with Nigeria and South Africa dominating, according to new research from cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.

The company, which runs an operation in Uganda, has measured the heat ranking of 'Bitcoin' in Google search by country/ region, and posted the results on its Twitter account.

Based on Google Trends data from 50 selected countries, the search for 'Bitcoin' in some African countries has been high for the past two years - though data from China and Korea, countries where Bitcoin is known to be very popular, may have been omitted or incorrect since Google is not their main search engine.

The research's findings presented in visualisation shows that until 2016, Kenya ranked among the top ten on several occasions.

Scam activities to high-yield investment program schemes, political uncertainty, unemployment and financial exclusion are factors that have contributed to more Africans seeking alternative means of storing and moving Fintech value.

The latest research proves that Bitcoin is a perfect tool for moving global value says Munachi Ogueke, chief business officer at Yellow Card Financial.

"In Africa, we know that access to foreign exchange that is very liquid and easily accessible is very difficult and very expensive. Bitcoin solves this problem rather easily, and without hassle. With the irrational banking fees and charges, Bitcoin helps people and business transfer money cheaper. Lots of businesses are starting to use it because it saves them a lot of time and cost."

Ogueke adds: "We have seen people liberated from poverty by applying simple trading tactics or arbitrage. We have seen also of mismanagement and high inflation rates in Africa, plenty of people are turning to Bitcoin and other digital currencies to help them grow and preserve the value of their money. Where there is political turmoil or uncertainty in war-torn countries, digital global money is helping people to take the money anywhere."

Thabang Mashiloane, co-founder of Chankura exchange, believes the search trend shows that many people are still curious about the technology and the potential for more adoption in emerging markets.

"I think countries that are left behind will want to understand the technology and the fact that the developer community is still centred in a few places like Silicon Valley and some parts of Asia makes it hard for people to understand the deep protocol level of how the technology functions. So I suspect some of these stats could be repeat searches because there's the education gap that leaves people to ask many questions about the technology."

Mashiloane believes Africa would eventually "have to jump into the bandwagon whether we like or not".

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