Why is there a sudden surge in Bitcoin acceptance in Dakar? And can it influence neighboring countries and regions to explore the magic of internet money?
Cointelegraph goes to Senegal, West Africa. A medium-sized African country recently offered Bitcoin
conference, and more and more merchants and customers are joining the Lightning Network.
Armed with a camera, a Lightning Wallet and a microphone, journalist Joe Hall hit the streets of Senegal to peek beneath the surface of bitcoin acceptance in the capital, Dakar.
As a Cointelegraph YouTube video points out, Senegal has a young, digital-native population, and in recent years it has become a different nature for people to send money through mobile phones rather than banks.
For example, a mobile money provider called Wave began operating in Senegal in 2017 and has since expanded to other West African countries. It now boasts millions of users.
Like Bitcoin, the mobile money revolution aims at banking without staff and improving financial conditions for the financially poor population. Its user experience is very similar to sending money through Bitcoin’s Lightning Network by scanning a QR code or sending money to a number. However, mobile money charges range from 1% to 3% and confirmation can take a few minutes. So it’s a useful tool, but too expensive for microtransactions.
In the video, Hall sends Bitcoin over the Lightning Network to the CEO of Wave, who expresses his interest and surprise at the Lightning Network’s efficiency. In fact, many Senegalese were interested in receiving, acquiring, or learning how to hold Bitcoin.
The Bitcoin Days conference in Dakar highlighted the interest of Senegalese people in learning about and using Bitcoin. Founded by Nourou, Dakar Bitcoin Days is part of Bitcoin Senegal, another pocket of growing Bitcoin activity in West Africa.
However, the main reason that could lead to greater Bitcoin adoption in Senegal is breaking the monetary chains of its colonial past.
Related: ‘We don’t like our money’: The story of CFA and Bitcoin in Africa
In 1994, the value of the local currency, the CFA, was halved through a combination of efforts by France, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Senegalese fiat savings are decimated.
The scars of this monetary collapse and its residual regime remain in West Africa and Senegal. CFA money is not sovereign and disenfranchises and disenfranchises people.
That’s why people are looking for alternatives, and some are turning to Bitcoin.