Right across Africa, we are starting to see innovators experiment with the Blockchain and the potential of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
According to a report in How We Made It in Africa, at least 10 Bitcoin exchanges have come to market in Africa in the past year to provide trading services to African consumers.
The publication argues that Africa has an opportunity to leapfrog many traditional financial services in much the same way as it did traditional fixed-line telecoms. However, the complexities of trading Bitcoin, long transaction times, regulatory uncertainty and poor consumer awareness and understanding of the technology may hold back adoption.
Initiatives such as a Bitcoin payments trial at Pick n Pay show that there is some interest in cryptocurrencies among local consumers and businesses. But we may need to wait several years before the market gains critical mass. Consumers, businesses, banks and regulators will need to work together to make it happen.
I would be very surprised if you haven’t been part of a dinner table conversation at which crypto currencies, probably more specifically Bitcoin, is hotly debated! From those who have reaped returns to those who are just trying to understand it, it certainly makes for interesting conversation.
At IRESS South Africa, it’s a conversation that is happening more frequently with our clients, specifically retail brokers. These brokers are receiving more frequent queries from their clients as to how do they get in on the action, and add this new ‘asset class’ to their existing portfolios, watch this space!
Love it or hate it, it’s certainly something worth understanding…
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