BitPesa’s efforts to introduce Bitcoin to largely underbanked populations in several African countries have paved a path for other Bitcoin startups and platforms.
An increasing number of Bitcoin exchanges are beginning to expand their services to the African market, hoping to provide higher liquidity and favorable conversion rates.
African payment, remittance and financial markets are largely dominated by local remittance outlets, banks and mobile networks. Safaricom’s mobile phone-based remittance and microfinancing network in particular has a staggering 86 percent share of the Kenyan market, completely eliminating banks, financial institutions and other money transfer companies from its market.
Apart from Kenya, the financial markets of other African countries are relatively competitive, with local money transfer networks and platforms introducing innovative and cost-efficient methods of sending cross-border payments to secure a loyal userbase.
However, similar to most remittance outlets and money transfer networks, local African financial institutions charge substantial fees for the underbanked to send payments to families and friends in other locations. Most importantly, cross-border payments prove to be significantly more expensive than domestic payments.
New Bitcoin exchanges emerge
Over the past 12 months, the African market has seen the emergence of over 10 Bitcoin exchanges seeking to provide cheap and efficient trading services to the African population.
Some exchanges have expanded their services and established an office in Africa to serve the new market and observe the demand of Bitcoin in several African countries. One of these exchanges is Remitano, a prominent Bitcoin trading platform considered as the largest Bitcoin exchange in Vietnam.
While several exchanges offer conventional payment methods such as bank transfer and account top up, few platforms like BTCGhana provides local users and the underbanked population simpler methods of purchasing and selling Bitcoin.
On the BTCGhana platform, users in the US and Europe can make Bitcoin purchases through established exchange platforms and send the payment to local remittance platforms including TigoCash, Airtel Money and MTN Mobile Money within minutes.
This service allows African users to pick up cash at local remittance outlets at ease, without having to deal with complex withdrawal and deposit methods involving bank accounts and credit cards which are difficult and time-consuming to obtain.