5 Things I Learned About Bitcoin In Kenya In My 2 Months Here

in #bitcoin5 years ago

Since July 15th I have been living and working remotely in Nairobi, Kenya and I intend to stay here for several months more. During the time I have spent here so far, I have managed to meet several local bitcoin pioneers and have attended a small bitcoin conference in the center of Nairobi. In this brief post, I would like to share with you five things I have learned about bitcoin in Kenya.

1. Bitcoin merchant adoption is effectively zero

According to CoinMap, there are less than five merchants accepting bitcoin in Nairobi and zero in other parts of Kenya. The merchants that say they accept bitcoin are online travel booking companies and small tech companies. Not a single bricks and mortar shop accepts bitcoin in Kenya (yet).

2. Mobile money rules but that hinders bitcoin adoption by consumers

In Kenya there are two forms of mobile money, which have been launched by the two large telecom companies. Airtel and MPesa, with the latter seeing the higher usage rates. The way MPESA works is that you load Kenyan Schillings (KES) onto your MPESA mobile wallet at a local agent (of which there are plenty) and spend using your mobile phone through a simple text message-like service. While it is great to see mobile payment systems flourishing and promoting financial inclusion in rural parts of the country, it also makes using bitcoin mobile wallets for payments effectively redundant as a fully functioning mobile payment system is already in place in Kenya.

3. The largest telecoms company and mobile money provider, Safaricom, does not like bitcoin

Last year, Safaricom shut down BitPesa's access to their MPESA mobile wallets that allowed users to send international money transfers from bitcoin into local currency directly into MPESA mobile money wallets in Kenya. BitPesa went to court to appeal this decision. Unsurprisingly, given Safaricoms dominance in Kenya, BitPesa lost. This is likely the primary reason why bitcoin trading on LocalBitcoins.com has increased since December 2015.

4. Bitcoin trading volumes on LocalBitcoins.com in Kenya are on the rise in 2016

While bitcoin trading volumes have been very slow to grow from 2013 to the end of 2015, 2016 has seen a substantial increase in peer-to-peer bitcoin trading in Kenya. (https://coin.dance/volume/localbitcoins/KES)

5. There are currently only three bitcoin businesses in Kenya

The three business are the well-funded remittance start-up BitPesa, the Bitcoin & Blockchain accelerator hub BitHub Africa and the Bitcoin advisory firm UmatiBit.


You are on point. i am a crypto enthusiast in Kenya, The Central Bank has cautioned kenyans against its use thus hindering its use further

Cryptocurrency in Kenya is now picking up. People are taking interest of it. Meet serious business people and entrepreneurs here who trade on Bitcoin: http://www.biztalk.co.ke Join the forum and let's talk business in Kenya and around the world.

Very good information. No. 6. Did you get any info on any local miners in kenya? sustainability? power costs etc?

Hey jmagochi! Due to the high cost of mining equipment (relative to the average income in Kenya) and the lower rewards that bitcoin mining is reaping at this point, minig isn't really "a thing" here. I haven't met anyone yet who is mining any cryptocurrencies in Kenya. But I will ask my bitcoin friends here. Now that you mentioned it, I am curious too. :)

Mining is big in kenya, you probably not from Kenya or don't know what you are talking about. There are a lot of people mining different cryptocurrencies. I used to mine as well. The greatest miner in sub-saharan Africa is from Kenya. The guy has been featured in many tech companies and news portals like Bloomberg and CNN, just to name a few. It's a lucrative business with the right hardware.

Just a further note - not only is the equipment expensive here, electricity is done by prepayment at severely high rates (and solar electricity is very rare), so mining is out for most people

There are a few people mining, some as enthusiasts. >> Here is one such story. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-03/diary-of-an-african-cryptocurrency-miner

Great info...we traveled to Kenya this year and found the mobile money a good idea, but we were unable to use as our British network didn't work well outside of our hotel.

It'll take time, but we'll get there. Thanks for the article.

I am in steem joined today, its frustrating to buy bitcoin from kenya. the easiest way is through localbitcoin via mpesa.. the new entrants like https://kenya.belfrics.com/ takes a day or two before you get your coins. they too discourage sending funds mpesa to their bank account....

Just like with every market or service in Kenya, everyone "knows a guy" who does everything from picking up empty gas cylinder for refilling to washing clothes. The easiest way to get Bitcoins in Kenya is through what are called "trusted dealers". You send the money (MPesa, Paypal, Skrill and Payoneer are the most accepted) and they send the Bitcoins. For those who don't know any, legitimacy questions are handled via online communities. It is trading based on community trust and even if one person tried to hijack the system, within no time they are flagged as cons

I am sure a lot has changed since.

Alot has changed, bitcoin has started to gain track , despite the hurdles of buying coins, Kenyans are coming up with ways of going round the hurdles and actually trade in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Totally, mainstream acceptance, even bankers and anti-technology crowds are coming to terms with the opportunity it presents. The Kenyan CBK has commented on it several times; https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001257027/bitcoin-hot-new-investment-opportunity-or-a-sham. Although any government wouldn't want competition to its currency, especially not from within.

It's hardly surprising to learn that Safaricom will be against Bitcoin and crypto as a whole. It's akin to turkeys celebrating christmas. Safaricom's christmas is nigh thanks to blockchain/crypto, and there'll be no tears.

Amazingly, this article is still true to date, save for 4 and 5