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Bitnob Bringing Cross Border Payments to Parts of Africa

Statistics show it’s not the global economic heavyweights leading the charge in Bitcoin adoption. It’s less developed countries. In 2021, for instance, Africa had “some of the highest grassroots adoption in the world,” with Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa featuring in the top 20 of blockchain data company Chainalysis’ 2021 Global Index. 

The four major themes in the report on African crypto adoption included growth in grassroots adoption, crypto remittances, the explosion of P2P trading, and crypto as an instrument for preserving wealth.

Due to issues like poor infrastructure and a colonial legacy, Africa lags behind economically, with 57% of people unbanked and millions of others being poor. Due to that, the continent presents a perfect case for a borderless, censorship-resistant currency like Bitcoin. Also, it’s a fertile ground for crypto solutions companies to thrive.

One of those solutions is Bitnob — a crypto startup flipping the script on money, saving, and payments.

Crypto adoption is high in Ghana

What is Bitnob?

Bitnob is a fintech startup that lets people from anywhere borrow, pay, and get paid with Bitcoin. The company, founded in 2020, also allows users to save in Bitcoin and USD and shop online using its virtual, stablecoin-backed MasterCard.

Below is a snapshot of some of Binob’s offerings:

  • Nobcredit: Get instant cash loans for emergencies using your Bitcoin as collateral. You need at least $100 worth of BTC in your wallet to qualify.
  • Build Wealth in Bitcoin and USD with Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA): Fund your Bitcoin and USD savings plan with as little as $1 daily, weekly, and monthly. Send both currencies to anyone anywhere as long as they have the Bitnob app.
  • Send Money Fast and Securely: Bitnob has incorporated the Lightning Network. This means you can send and receive Bitcoin extra fast and with cheaper transaction fees than if you were transacting on-chain.
  • Cashapp and Strike: Bitnob is interoperable with CashApp and Strike — allowing your family or employer in the US to send money directly to your Bitnob mobile money account.

Bitnob is the brainchild of Nigerian software engineer and former Bitcoin OTC trader Bernard Parah. He told me he conceived the idea because he thought “we could build the best product that solved the financial system problems I faced as an African in a simple yet powerful way.

Why Bitnob?

Some of those problems include Africa’s unique problem of steep remittances. Per a  World Bank 2021 report, the region “remains the most expensive region to send money to…” with recipients incurring up to 8.2% out of every $200.

A 2019 report by the international lender also said transfers to the continent incurred an average of 9% in transaction fees, compared to the global cost of 6.8% thereabouts.

The solution to this problem is in Bitnob’s vision board. “The financial infrastructure on the continent is still young. I believe with technologies like Lightning; we can build innovative solutions that eliminate a lot of the problems we face with payments,” Parah shared.

Another mission is to empower people through Bitcoin. Even though thousands of cryptocurrencies exist, Bitcoin remains the most recognized and dominant. For Parah, it’s why he and his co-founders built Bitnob on Bitcoin. It’s the most “stable and predictable crypto protocol“, he noted.

Which Countries Does Bitnob Support?

Everyone can use Bitnob to make crypto deposits and withdrawals. However, Bitnob extends that functionality for three African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. Citizens of those states can make deposits and withdrawals using their local currencies.

There’s a reason why Bitnob chose those countries. For instance, the Ghanaian Cedi was on a freefall against the dollar this year — depreciating by 60%. It even ranked the worst-performing currency in Africa. Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, is also facing its fair share of monetary policy issues, including crippling capital controls.

But also, the three countries have a good history with Bitcoin, making them favorable for Bitnob.

For example, Kenyans traded crypto more than any nation worldwide and held the most crypto assets in the continent — with 8.5% of the population owning them. Further, Nigeria remains a bastion of Bitcoin adoption in the region — despite the government’s repression efforts. Then you have Ghana, which is also rallying in adoption.

Africa, in general, is a vanguard of crypto adoption across the globe. Such adoption is fuelled by necessity — unlike for Western countries. For the 2021 crypto adoption report, Chainalysis interviewed Adedeji Owonibi, founder of Nigerian blockchain solutions company Convexity, who shed light on this phenomenon: “We see a lot of daily traders who are trading to make ends meet.

He continued: “We don’t have big, institutional-level traders in Sub-Saharan Africa… Nigeria has a ton of educated young graduates with high unemployment rates, no jobs available. It’s a way to feed their family and solve their financial needs.

How is Bitnob Different?

Bitnob leverages the ease and speed of the Lightning network to achieve instant and borderless payments. You can use it to make payments online, including tipping content creators, buying airtime, and more.

Bitcoin is a powerful wallet that makes your Bitcoin and stablecoins instantly useful…from sending and receiving instant payments to automatic savings, Bitcoin-backed loans and more,” Parah stated. “We differentiate ourselves by our singular focus on utility, not speculation.

According to Parah, reception for the app has been “excellent,” with most users saying they wish they had discovered it earlier. It’s available for both Android and iOS users.

Final Word: Financial Inclusion for All

With a censorship-resistant, decentralized, global, and inflation-proof currency like Bitcoin, the world’s economically underserved never had a bigger shot at financial inclusion than now.

Bitnob is at the front line helping make this happen. The ability, for example, to save as low as $1 in Bitcoin is genuinely inclusive and game-changing. It will be exciting to watch the company’s growth and milestones.

Being in the cryptocurrency space and from Africa, I understand the challenges of the continent’s financial infrastructure and the potential impact of Bitcoin. I’m rooting for Bernard Parah and the Bitnob team.

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Hope Mutie

About the Author

Hope Mutie

Hope Mutie is a professional writer and editor whose interests include fintech, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. She engages with crypto audiences by curating content that’s fun-to-read, educational, and offers unmatched value. Hope is part of the brilliant team at Go Full Crypto – a podcast and service that enables your transition into crypto.

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