Last year, the crypto economy celebrated its 10th birthday. Africa has become a key Bitcoin market with 6.5 million transactions in 2018.
Despite a fluctuating market, Paxful – a global peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace and Bitcoin wallet - saw an upswing in activity driven by African consumers in particular. The African continent accounted for 6.5 million Bitcoin trades in 2018, an average of 17,000 trades a day.
When it comes to 2019 and beyond, Africa will continue to lead both the business and the world's overall crypto-economy, said Paxful CEO and founder Ray Youssef. That is due to the large number of unbanked African consumers.
“The aim of the cryptocurrency revolution is to make the global economy more accessible. Africa has emerged as a leader in this space, with the highest number of new subscriptions at Paxful occurring last year,” he explained in a media statement. “Africa accounts for the highest number of new subscribers to the Paxful portal per month with the total number of transactions from African consumers at roughly $69,498,100 per month, culminating in an increase of 225% new users in the last 12 months.”
He notes Africans are using cryptocurrency to satisfy both personal finance needs and entrepreneurial ventures, including transferring goods, services, and money domestically and globally. “There is also an emerging generation of Africans buying crypto as investment vehicles into promising blockchain start-ups. A relatively small number of Africans trade digital currencies speculatively for profit.”
According to Youssef, Bitcoin in Africa has an increased humanitarian focus. Paxful plans to play its role here, too. “We plan to grow our pioneering #BuiltWithBitcoin charitable program to encourage the cryptocurrency sector to contribute funds for humanitarian projects with a focus on building schools and providing bursaries for disadvantaged children.”
In terms of the future, he notes that governments will pay closer attention to cryptocurrencies. “Countries around the world are now taking a closer look at how to contend with the rise of the crypto-economy,” Youssef says. “We expect more activity in the policy development space in the next few years in line with digital currency acceptance. From a Kenyan point of view, technology and productivity intertwine, and this offers the convenience that the underbanked seek in digital banking.”
Artur Schaback, Paxful Co-founder and COO, agrees and notes the future is looking bright. “We remain passionate about facilitating financial inclusion to the underbanked and are awed by the progress made this year in achieving this goal,” he says. “With only a small percentage of the global internet-active population currently trading in the crypto-space, the potential for expansion is great. The encouraging number of new users gained in 2018 in Africa alone proves the appetite for this technology. We’ve only just begun making inroads and are excited about the future.”