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Can accepting and promoting the use of Bitcoin as the only means of payment make a difference in Nigeria’s e-commerce industry?
The founder of what could be Nigeria's first online store that accepts Bitcoin has described an experience of buying from US-based retail giant Overstock as a major factor that made him proceed with the idea of an e-commerce site. The site launches this month and only accepts cryptocurrency. Emmanuel Olorunisola says:
“Shopnow.ng came to mind precisely in April when I got a list of websites that accept BTC and I was trying them out to see how they work. I stumbled on overstock.com and saw a wristwatch selling for $28 and I was excited and decided to place an order.”
Enthusiastic at the opportunity presented by Overstock, it struck him as a platform that would be useful to him, as well as other Nigerians who may want to use the digital currency for payment. There is no reliable study on the actual number of Nigerians using the currency and their pattern of usage, and Olorunisola found the shipping fee to be five times higher than the actual price of the product he had wanted to order.
However, rather than let his disappointment at the situation weigh him down, Olorunisola thought of how to create a similar platform where people in Nigeria can pay with Bitcoin. He is aware that there will be several other Nigerians who have Bitcoin and would, at some point, want to shop and pay with the digital currency without having to worry about first converting it to Naira.
Several factors have drawn Nigerians to Bitcoin, especially in the past year. According to Chris Ani, who provides education for newbies in the Nigerian cryptocurrency space, the current banking system “has left a lot of Nigerians unsatisfied” and the economic recession that recently shook the country has drawn Nigerians to digital currencies such as Bitcoin. He is of the view that addressing inadequate information about digital currencies is key to boosting users’ confidence for online transactions as in the case of shopnow.ng.
However, despite the possibilities and the potentials of the e-commerce industry in Nigeria, it is not clear whether shopnow.ng will gain traction immediately with its new approach to the market.
Several big guns such as Konga, Jumia, OLX and Jiji already dominate the market. The acceptance and promotion of the use of Bitcoin is the niche that could make the difference.
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