South African internet entrepreneur and Bitcoin popular evangelist Vinny Lingham speaks with Cointelegraph about the Bitcoin scene in South Africa.

When will Bitcoin go mainstream?

Cointelegraph: What inspired you to get involved with Bitcoin?

Vinny Lingham: I first heard of Bitcoin in 2010 in a news article and I was very dismissive of it, regretfully so. I was more inspired to get involved when I saw how the marketplaces were developing and after I started Gyft, I realized it was another way of improving payments, globally.

CT: Do you think Bitcoin will ever reach true mainstream status, or do you think it will always remain something of a fringe currency?

VL: Bitcoin will need to get to the $3-5k level to go mainstream from a liquidity standpoint as a currency. It will also need some major improvements in the usability for consumers to use it as a currency - notably, payments should never be quoted in decimal points ("It's 0.00145 BTC for a cup of coffee please, sir"). As an industry, we will move there I think once we get to higher price points. Also, I think there are far more interesting use cases for Bitcoin that don't involve currency and these use cases could find millions or billions of people using Bitcoin every day, without knowing they are using it.

Vinny Lingham

Bitcoin in South Africa

CT: What does the Bitcoin scene look like in South Africa?

VL: It's up and coming, but still a way to go. I haven't invested in any South African Bitcoin startups but I've invested in a number of US ones, including Stem & Chronicled.

CT: Have you had any Bitcoin or Blockchain startups on Dragon’s Den South Africa (Shark Tank for US readers)?

VL: Not yet... Hopefully next season :-)

Altcoins and Ethereum

CT: Are you interested in, or have you had any experience with, other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum?

VL: I wrote a blog post called ‘Bitcoin Rising’ on my medium blog [that talks about this.] Given that there are already millions of Bitcoin wallets & users, and over 100,000 merchants already accepting Bitcoin, the network effect has become too strong for an alt coin to emerge, without it having a fundamentally different and greatly improved value proposition. I really think that Bitcoin has far superior network effects that make other cryptos more speculative.