Over US$1 million worth of Bitcoin exchanged weekly in Nigeria
- Published on 30 January 2017
According to data from LocalBitcoins.com, since the last two weeks of 2016, about NGN400 million-worth of Bitcoin transactions (NGN305 = USD1 CBN exchange rate) are being recorded weekly in Nigeria.
The site, which allows for a person-to-person Bitcoin trading, shows that the number of Bitcoin exchanged in Nigeria in the past 30 days has almost been at par with the figure for the entire Eurozone and its close to 400 million population when compared by markets - 3986.33 BTC in the EU zone and 3817.99 BTC in Nigeria.
According to latest information from Alexa.com, which provides website traffic statistics, more (16%) of LocalBitcoins.com's visitors are currently located in Nigeria. This is in line with recent Google Trend analytics which showed that Nigeria records the highest number of Bitcoin-related searches.
Several factors could have been responsible for the development.
Bitcoin-related news is now being featured in the market report section on the Nigerian Television Authority. Additionally, the popular MMM scheme, which has been active in Nigeria despite government's effort to dissuade its members, has introduced a Bitcoin option to its members.
However, it is not immediately clear if there is a relationship between the rising interest of Nigerians in Bitcoin and these developments or any other not mentioned.
"The reality is that we live in the tech era and technology will continue to disrupt whatever it comes across and that includes money as we know and use it," says Davidson Atere-Roberts, the founder of BitcoinNow, a Bitcoin selling platform that is available in five African countries. "Globally Bitcoin is still evolving into mainstream finance so expectedly Africa is still at the nascent stage of adoption and acceptance."
It is worth noting that the LocalBitcoins.com is just one of several platforms through which Bitcoin can be bought and sold in Nigeria.
Atere-Roberts believes that it is only a matter of time before a significant number of Nigerians and Africans generally tap into the potential of Bitcoin.
"The main challenge we believe the African market is facing is nervousness. There is not enough awareness about digital currencies. You cannot invest in an alternative you do not fully understand.
Bitcoin technology is not necessarily the easiest thing to grasp and understanding blockchain, the underlying technology behind it, is essential for general acceptance. Another major stumbling block could be the price volatility, the public would be skeptical about an asset value that fluctuates.
That said, there has been an upward trend in value over the last few years. Bitcoin as a currency in contrast with other national currencies was the best performing currency in both 2015 and 2016."
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Going by the official exchange rate and activity on LocalBitcoins.com, Bitcoin transactions in Nigeria has been hovering at over a million US dollars weekly since the start of 2017.