Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize money transfer in Africa by providing a fast, cheap, and secure way to send and receive funds. Especially when sending value over the Lightning network.
Money transfer between African countries can be a challenging and expensive process due to a lack of infrastructure and the high fees charged by traditional financial institutions. However, bitcoin has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and affordability of money transfer between African countries.
One of the main advantages of bitcoin is that it allows for fast, cheap, and secure money transfers anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Transactions on the Bitcoin network are processed almost instantly, and the fees are typically much lower than those charged by traditional financial institutions. Money transfers to Africa are significantly more expensive than the global average.
In addition, bitcoin is decentralized, meaning that it is not controlled by any government or financial institution. This makes it resistant to censorship and fraud, which can be a major problem with traditional money transfer methods in some parts of Africa. During the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria in 2020, activists and supporters of the movement raised funds from supporters all over the world using bitcoin after their traditional bank accounts were closed.
Overall, the use of bitcoin has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency and affordability of money transfer between African countries, and to help bring financial inclusion to millions of people on the continent who are currently underserved by traditional financial institutions.
Platforms for bitcoin money transfer to Africa
Here are a few concrete examples of companies using bitcoin to improve money transfers to Africa:
- Strike is an app that has launched a new feature in partnership with Bitnob , a bitcoin-only exchange in Africa, for instant transfers and payments over the Lightning Network to bank accounts or mobile money in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. The recipient doesn’t need a bitcoin wallet.
- Azteco is a bitcoin voucher platform that allows you to purchase bitcoin at Azteco vendors or online. You can then send the voucher number to your recipient in Africa. Your recipient must go to the Azteco website and enter the voucher code; the vouchers can then be redeemed for bitcoin instantly. The procedure is the same as when you top up your phone with a mobile refill. It supports both on-chain and Lightning Network vouchers.
- Send Globally is a new service from CoinCorner, a bitcoin-only exchange, that allows users in UK and EU to transfer funds freely and instantly to Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana via the bitcoin Lightning Network. Recipients in those countries will receive local currency in their local bank account or mobile money wallet.
- Bitrefill is a website and app that allows you to buy digital gift cards and mobile phone refills for your recipient in Africa with bitcoin. The Lightning Network has also been integrated into the platform.
- Cryptovoucher is a service that allows you to purchase prepaid vouchers from their online distributors or from a local shop. On the platform, you can also exchange gift cards such as Amazon or Walmart for bitcoin. You can also buy directly with a credit card or a bank transfer. The voucher code will be used by your recipient to redeem bitcoin on the website.
- Sendcash is a platform that allows people to send money to mobile money and local bank accounts in Nigeria using bitcoin. Your recipient does not need to understand bitcoin. Within minutes of completing your transfer, your recipient’s account will be credited with their local currency.
- BitLipa is a Kenyan remittance startup that allows users to send money to Africa using bitcoin from anywhere in the world. The app enables freelancers to be paid for their work both locally and internationally, while people working abroad can send money home easily and without incurring any transaction fees.
- Bitsika is a remittance app that uses bitcoin and fiat currency to provide instant money transfers. The app is currently available in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda.
While there are still obstacles to overcome, such as a lack of digital infrastructure and education, the potential benefits of bitcoin for money transfers in Africa are substantial. Bitcoin is likely to become an increasingly important tool for improving financial accessibility and efficiency in the region as technology and infrastructure evolve.