“I have been meaning to join the whole crypto craze so I can make more money. Would you be able to show me how I can trade crypto?” Many conversations about cryptocurrencies start this way, especially amongst Africa’s bubbling young population. When approached with this question, another bigger question roams my mind; Is trading the only use-case for crypto? – Ruth Iselema – CEO, Bitmama
But before we go any further, let me tell you a story about my first experience with cryptocurrencies:
One can say I am among the few blockchain literates and early adopters of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria. My first-hand experience in trading dates back to 2015/2016 when there was a lot of uncertainty around crypto and the blockchain in general. The high-level uncertainties meant that there were more risks associated with the nascent blockchain landscape.
Despite the glaring risks, I decided to jump on the crypto wagon and try my hands on trading in 2016. Long story short, I got burnt and lost money to crypto trading. Amid the mixed feelings and perplexities, I chose not to give up. Rather, I began exploring other viable and practical uses cases of cryptocurrencies beyond trading.
This has opened up a wide variety of opportunities in my crypto journey which I’d like to share with you.
If you peek into the 2021 Geography And Cryptocurrency Report by Chainalysis, you’ll find that Africa’s share of the global cryptocurrency value received is 3%. Despite this considerably low number, Africa holds the largest share of peer-to-peer (P2P) cryptocurrency transactions globally in the real sense.
“Why does this feel like a discrepancy?” You may ask. The simplest explanation can be traced to Africa’s largest nation by GDP. Due to the fluctuations in the exchange rate of the naira to the US dollar, many Nigerians always tend to hold and use the US dollar in and outside the country; even for day-to-day transactions. Contrary to the mindset of Nigerians, the dollar isn’t as stable in value across the continent. But crypto is!
Peer-to-peer transactions are one of many other use cases for crypto yet to be fully explored.
Throughout our journey with Bitmama, we have discovered two very useful and practical use cases of cryptocurrencies beyond trading.
- LIFESTYLE INCLUSION WITH CRYPTO CARDS:
Imagine the possibility of performing online transactions directly with your coins. From grocery shopping to cinema tickets, booking flights for vacations, making hotel reservations or paying vendors for wedding anniversaries. Now, imagine you don’t have to imagine it, cause today, we’ve made it a reality with Bitmama Crypto Cards.
The use-case is very straightforward. Globally, we’ve rambled about how blockchain and cryptocurrencies underscore a decentralised system. But the use-case of decentralisation has been narrowed down to “trading and making money”. It’s why there’s a wrong ideology that crypto is a get-rich-quick scheme. But once we remove the making money equation, and think of crypto as a means to live, thrive, not just an alternative way of ramping up cash, it does more than change the approach to crypto – It aids the mindset and opens the mind to boundless possibilities.
Also, users become empowered with a choice that a decentralised system should truly give. Spending directly using your cryptocurrencies, from your blockchain/digital wallets, without necessarily going through the hurdle of trading, or selling is as powerful and decentralised as it should be.
- FINANCIAL INCLUSION WITH CRYPTO LENDING SCHEMES
Anywhere in the world, access to finance always fosters liberation. Now, consider the same with Crypto lending schemes. Unfortunately, crypto lending schemes are still struggling for mainstream adoption today. I believe at Bitmama, we are one of the very few players that offer non-collateralized Crypto loans on our platform. A number of other players in the space often offer collateralized loans, which defies the goal of financial inclusion. It’s why we’re doing things differently at Bitmama. We don’t ask our users for collateral before accessing a facility for a period of time.
And as they build their credit reputation, they’re able to access higher loans rates over time. Through this initiative, opportunities to go long on dip markets do not elude our users. Whether or not they’ve got enough fiat liquidity during bearish markets.
On the broader scale of the blockchain ecosystem landscape, more startups are rising to tackle problems and proffer other practical solutions, to a plethora of problems in Africa, using the blockchain.
Some of these solutions target the problem of real estate (land title verifications which has been and still is one of the biggest challenges in Africa), decentralised finance (De-Fi), precision/smart farming, crowdfunding, and so on.
A very popular concept, which is now making waves in the crypto world are non-fungible tokens, popularly known as NFTs which have been created with the aim of protecting the intellectual properties of many artists and players in the creative arts space. The NFTs have skyrocketed in market value over the past year. Specifically, In 2021, users sent at least $44.2 billion worth of cryptocurrency to ERC-721 and ERC-1155 contracts, the two types of Ethereum smart contracts associated with NFT marketplaces and collections, according to Chainalysis. You could look for good NFT projects if you feel you want to get into them. I think one example of an NFT that performs well on the market is the Bored Ape Yacht Club. So imagine you got in very early when it was like USD 0.08, you would be telling another story today.
Another question I get a lot is; “Ruth, do you think Blockchain and cryptocurrency is the future?”
My answer to this has always been a resounding YES! It is my honest belief that cryptocurrency is the future of money and blockchain is a solution to many of Africa’s challenges.
As Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “the basic story of technology in our lifetimes is that it has given us the power to express ourselves”. And this is the exact same power that cryptocurrency and the blockchain offer to users: the power to express yourselves and have power over your personal economy.
I hope that the next time you hear about cryptocurrency or the blockchain, you will think about the power of the many use cases it brings to you and of course, that you will also think about Bitmama!