Bitcoin is rising pretty fast in Africa. In fact, the digital currency has been growing exponentially all around the world.
This year there has been a substantial growth in investments related to the digital currency and Africa is no exception to this trend. A lot of startups are springing up with innovative applications for Bitcoin in the African context; these innovative applications are disrupting the remittance market and making the cryptocurrency available over SMS.
The main Bitcoin startups leading this new revolution in the continent are already widely known within the community:
Beam is a Ghanaian Bitcoin startup aiming to disrupt remittances to and within Africa, primarily by cutting the cost of transferring money. Beam undercuts traditional remittance services. The startup also allows funds to be remitted directly to mobile money wallets, in a bid to make Bitcoin more accessible to African markets.
Since its launch, BitPesa has taken Africa’s emerging Bitcoin market by storm, raising follow-on funding of US$1.1m less than a year after launching; taking the total investment to US$1.7m. On the back of this funding, BitPesa last week announced the roll-out of its services to Tanzania, with further expansion to Uganda also planned for the near future.
In South Africa, Bitcoin startup Bankymoon focuses on Bitcoin integration, providing Bitcoin payment gateways to smart metering vendors, which allow the vendors to accept Bitcoin payments for utilities.
Zimbabwean startup BitFinance runs the BitcoinFundi online bitcoin exchange, allowing users to buy and sell bitcoin with mobile money and bank transfers. BitFinance was recently selected to participate in Kenya-based accelerator Savannah Fund’s fourth programme, receiving between US$25,000 and US$30,000 in funding – the exact figure was not revealed.
Nigerian startup Bitstake provides similar services to Bitpesa and Beam to the Nigerian market. Bitstake is also aware of the challenges inherent to the African market, and as such allows Bitcoin to be sent via SMS, without the use of internet architecture.
All these startups have been introducing a lot of innovations and helping the unbanked. In a final analysis, the performance and growth of these third world startups makes an interesting approach of the technological leapfrogging potential of Bitcoin in developing countries.