Over the last few months, we reported time and time again how the African continent has been growing and nourishing its crypto market, so it’s no surprise that people are starting to catch on. As we see the crypto adoption numbers rise, we will see big players getting involved in every way they can and today’s News Digest is another proof of that. Let’s begin with one player that everyone will recognize.
Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, recently announced its Crypto Consulting Services, an offering designed to help clients and partners advance their own crypto journey. This comes at a moment when digital currencies are taking greater hold in the popular consciousness— according to research released by Visa, awareness of crypto among financial decision makers is near universal at 94% around the world.
In a new global study, “The Crypto Phenomenon: Consumer Attitudes & Usage,” Visa found that nearly one-third of respondents have directly engaged with crypto – either as an investment vehicle or to send or receive money. And globally, nearly 40% of crypto owners report they would be likely or very likely to switch their primary bank to one that offers crypto-related products in the next 12 months.
“Crypto is capturing the attention of people around the world as they think about how they want to invest, where they want to bank, and what the future of money looks like. As crypto becomes more widely understood and adopted, financial institutions have an opportunity to meet crypto demand head on.” said Aldo Laubscher, South Africa Country Manager at Visa.
For financial institutions eager to attract new customers with a crypto offering, or to build loyalty among existing clients, understanding the crypto ecosystem is a vital first step. Visa’s network of consultants and product experts are helping financial institutions evaluate and meet growing interest in crypto, develop concrete strategies, and pilot new user experiences and innovations like crypto-backed rewards programs and CBDC-integrated consumer wallets.
And although this is a worldwide project they shared some numbers that stood out to us. According to a survey conducted by Visa across eight markets (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong (SAR), South Africa, the U.K. and U.S.), South Africa has the greatest engagement with crypto overall, with the highest percentage of 28% Active Owners, 16% Passive Owners, 26% are Curious, 7% are Skeptics and 23% are Unengaged. It compares very well to the rest of the world when it comes to awareness of cryptocurrencies and active usage.
“Now, with the rise of crypto, we are committed to connecting our network to crypto and blockchain networks to deliver on its mission: enabling individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive,” said Aldo.
Next up we have a huge movement in favour of crypto in the Nigerian government. Prince Clem Agba, a Nigerian minister of state for budget and national planning has extended his support for the budding space of cryptocurrencies before the government of Nigeria. Earlier this year, Nigeria's central bank had banned Bitcoin transactions from being facilitated by commercial lenders. Agba believes, however, that imposing anti-crypto regulations in the country could lead to grim consequences in the future. The minister's support for cryptocurrencies comes amid Nigeria's economic struggle to overcome inflation caused by slow, COVID-riddled economic activities.
“The uncertainty in regulating cryptocurrencies risks denying government and citizens the chance to maximise opportunities from the technology,” a Bloomberg report quoted Agba as saying.
The African Development Bank Group (ADBG), in a recent study had revealed that the Nigerian economy entered into recession in 2020 due to a fall in crude oil prices on account of falling global demand and containment measures against Coronavirus.
The inflation rate also rose to 12.8 percent in 2020 from 11.4 percent in 2019.
Amid this economic chaos, the Internet-backed youth of Nigeria and other African nations began experimenting with the crypto space.
The crypto market in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa together saw 1,200 percent growth, reaching a market valuation of $105.6 billion (roughly Rs. 775 crores) in one year, a report by Chainalysis claimed in September.
Even after the Nigerian central bank ruled against legalising crypto-trading, the country did introduce its blockchain-based “central bank digital currency” (CBDC) called eNaira. Directly controlled by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the eNaira is subject to the daily transaction limits and other stratifications.
Owing to the decentralised and untraceable nature of cryptocurrencies, as well as the market volatility, several nations including India and Russia among other are refraining from legalising them.
Following that, on February 12, 2021, Twitter co-founder and then CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he would be collaborating with American rapper and Tidal Chief Jay-Z to launch a new Bitcoin fund which would be focused on funding the cryptocurrency’s development in Africa & India. Dorsey has now announced the members of the fund’s trust board, three Nigerians and one South African.
Dorsey entered the partnership with Jay Z in a bid to empower Bitcoin in Africa and in India. When announced, it was also said that the fund would be a blind irrevocable trust. This means that neither Jay Z nor Dorsey would have a say in the operations of the fund, but would select members of the trust board to handle the entire operation.
The announcement of the fund would unfortunately mean that Nigeria would be excluded from any outright cryptocurrency dealings, seeing as the Central Bank of Nigeria had issued a circular banning all bank transactions including cryptocurrencies a week before the announcement was made.
The announcement also came at a time when the Indian government announced that it would ban cryptocurrencies after it gave investors a time frame to retract their holdings. It then coincided with Bitcoin recording the highest which it had ever recorded at the time, sitting at $47,450.
The former Twitter CEO announced the members of the board on Wednesday, after applications had been open since February. Although the initial tweet mentioned that three members were needed on the board, four members have been selected to spearhead operations.
In the statement released on Dorsey’s Twitter page, it was mentioned that the eventual board members were selected from a pool of about 7,000 applicants. Of the four chosen, three were Nigerian and the other was from South Africa.
The three Nigerians are: Abubakar Nur Khalil, a core bitcoin contributor who has received $50k in bitcoin from the Human Rights Foundation over his work on Bitcoin wallet software; Obi Nwosu, co-founder of Coinfloor, a seed-level cryptocurrency startup; and Ojoma Ochai, Managing Partner at CcHUBCreative (Co-Creation Hub), a tech innovation workspace.
The South African is Carla Kirk-Cohen, a software engineer at Lightning Labs and a former employee of Luno, South African crypto exchange and wallet firm.
The announcement of the three Nigerians on the board comes as no surprise, because back in June 2021, Dorsey touted the Nigerian people as future leaders of Bitcoin in spite of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ban on cryptocurrency trading. The ban affected both fintech companies and traditional banks.
Nigerians have found ways to go around this ban, continuing to trade cryptocurrencies. It is similar to how Nigerians found a way around the Twitter ban, using VPN to access the social network regardless of the Nigerian Government’s Twitter ban.
Last, but not least we have our AMA review! For those who missed our end of the year AMA on the 15th, we prepared a review with all the great questions from our community and our team’s answers. Make sure to check it out and stay alert for the announcement of our next one.
That’s it for this week’s News Digest. Make sure to follow us on our social media, so you get all the updates on our project, as well as a lot of fun content we have in the works. 2022 will be another exciting year so please join the conversation on Telegram: https://t.me/KamPayOfficial to stay up to date or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KamPayToken