If there’s a place where cryptocurrencies draw significantly more attention than anywhere else right now, it has to be Nigeria. Africa’s largest economy is driven by its oil exports, expanding manufacturing, financial services, communications, and information technology sectors, but also by a tech-savvy generation that asks Google about Bitcoin more than its peers in other countries. Despite the progress, however, cash remains the only option for many Nigerians to buy cryptocurrency. New services are aiming to satisfy that demand.
Nigeria now has at least one operational Bitcoin Automated Teller Machine (BATM). For various reasons, including security concerns, there’s only a couple of dozen teller devices supporting cryptocurrencies in the whole of Africa, the Coinatmradar map shows. According to local media reports, Nigeria got its first BATM only this year. The device was deployed in Dazey Lounge & Bar in Lagos in early January by a local company called Blockstale.
The BATM has been manufactured in China but has an “Africa-focused design,” which takes into account the safety problem in the country, featuring an alarm system, a remote tracker and bio scanners to make it theft and vandal-proof, as the Weetracker news outlet reported.
The ATM, which the first in Nigeria, and also the fifteenth in the entire continent was installed at a Lounge in Lagos.
Chief Executive Daniel Adekunle revealed that Blockstale is gearing up to install more cryptocurrency ATMs across Nigeria and in neighboring countries. The company has already delivered five more machines that will be deployed in Lagos by the end of the month and will then move on to Abuja towards the next quarter. These are two-way devices supporting both purchases and sales of BTC for the moment, but more currencies will be added later. Blockstale is also considering the introduction of a mobile top-up feature allowing users to reload their prepaid mobile phones using crypto. “Nigerians have trust issues, meaning we prefer to have direct interactions because we believe that this is safe, secure, and best practice to avoid loss of funds,” Adekunle commented, adding:
We operate in a cash-based economy even though our banks want us to go cashless. These BATMs serve as an on-ramp for users looking into cashing out their digital assets or having quick access to purchase digital assets with cash securely.
At the moment, South Africa is home to seven crypto ATMs, Ghana has two, while Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Djibouti and Botswana each have a single terminal. With a Bitcoin ATM in Nigeria, the crypto community can expect more developments and widespread adoption in the future.
Recent weeks have seen about 220 Bitcoins or $1.38 million worth of peer-to-peer (P2P) trade between bitcoin and Nigeria’s currency on LocalBitcoins.
The number of Nigerians on LocalBitcoins has dropped by about 50% since the peer to peer platform strengthened it’s knowing your customer requirements around September 2019.
However, Nigeria is still topping Google searches for ‘Bitcoin’, driving nearly twice the traffic as the second-ranked country, Austria, according to Google Trends.
Do you think the introduction of this BATM will drive more Nigerians to Bitcoin? Share your expectations in the comments section below.