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While many investors in the West may turn to cryptocurrencies to speculate on the next biggest trend, blockchain technology is actually solving “real problems” in Africa such as hyperinflation and “corruption,” executives told Cointelegraph.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Chris Maurice, founder and CEO of Yellow Card — Africa’s largest cryptocurrency exchange — said that cryptocurrency in Africa is “growing at the speed of light” because it allows many Africans to avoid the disruptions of the traditional financial system and transact more freely.
“Cryptocurrency solves real banking and currency problems on the continent, and it’s not a casino that can sometimes be felt in the West.”
Maurice said the most common use cases in Africa are international payments, sending money to friends and family, and “saving money from inflation.”
“Cryptocurrency in Africa is closer than any other part of the world to the original mission of the technology,” he added.
Africa has more cryptocurrency users than North America or Europe.
6 of the top 20 countries in the world for cryptocurrency are in Africa.
Africa is the cryptocurrency continent. https://t.co/NzodcOkMYn
— Chris Maurice⚜️ (@chrismaurice) April 24, 2023
Kevin Imani, founder and CEO of Sankore 2.0, a Tier 1 affiliate of Near Protocol, believes that blockchain-based payments can act as a technology to protect human rights:
“It is important to recognize the protection of human rights that it provides to people in underdeveloped countries. In many developing countries, hyperinflationary pressures and corruption leave citizens no choice.”
“Cryptocurrencies offer these people a lifeline by providing greater financial inclusion and control over their money,” he added.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s inflation rate reached about 14.5% in 2022, marking the biggest annual change in the region since the 2008 recession, according to Statistica.
Imani said “the ability to stand up to weak national currencies and corruption” and expand financial inclusion makes peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions an easy task for many Africans.
From Lagos to Nairobi, Accra to Cape Town, Africa is emerging as a powerhouse of tech innovation.
Watch this space! #BlockchaininAfrica pic.twitter.com/LYGZCQ0u9Z
— NEAR Kenya | NEAR is Now (@NearKenya) June 19, 2023
“Personally, I see cryptocurrency as Africa’s next chance in life, another opportunity to be part of something great, unlike the Internet revolution of the 2000s, when most Africans were not as vulnerable as they are today,” added Okoye Kevin Chibuoyim, founder. and CEO of Nigeria-based cryptocurrency education platform GIDA.
“Africans are used to bad governments that are not accountable and opaque, but here the blockchain is showing its transparent nature and making everyone trust the system,” he said.
Related: Africa: The Next Hub for Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Adoption and Venture Capital?
In April, Block, an American digital payments company led by Jack Dorsey, partnered with Yellow Card to facilitate cross-border payments in Africa based on Block’s infrastructure.
After the number of cryptocurrency users increased by 2500% in 2021, the region experienced an 11-fold surge in venture capital funding in 2022.
Maurice said Nigerians have embraced crypto “like no one else” in the region, with one local outlet reporting in May that 47% of Nigerians own or trade crypto on a daily basis.
While Maurice said that Botswana has “the most legal and regulatory clarity,” cryptocurrency is currently reportedly illegal in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon, Guyana, Lesotho, Libya, and Zimbabwe, according to Investopedia.