The African continent, even through massive growth over the past decade, still trails behind leading economies in banking infrastructure. A harsh reality is that many Africans leave their home country in search for work in more prosperous countries around the world. Their main goal is to earn enough money to be able to support their families back home. However, getting money back home can be a costly and lengthy process. Sending a small amount of money home in an emergency can be impossible as banking fees and regulation make it uneconomical.
In the first few years that Skype was around, its target market was businesses needing to make long distance calls, and family memebers in other countries wanting to communicate with their loved ones. This gradually changed, and has seen a much wider adoption by the general public. Now many companies use Skype for internal instant messaging. Regular people use it to communicate locally, rather than using the traditional phone system. This pattern of adoption could be the same for Bitcoin. The true power of Bitcoin is its cheap and fast cross-board transfer capabilities. It is cheap to send any amount of Bitcoin to anyone around the world. Instead of weeks of waiting for clearance, Bitcoin transactions could reflect in as little as ten minutes.
Change Is Needed
Bitcoin could be a extremely important for the African market who require cheap and fast methods of transferring funds from other countries without the need for large amounts of infrastructure or a centralised authority. There are millions of Africans living away from their home country who send over $40 billion home to their families each year. Yet, banking authorities are taking a massive cut, accumulating over $1 billion in fees per year. It is estimated that banks such as Western Union and MoneyGram charge 12.3 percent to send a mere $200 cross boarders.
Bitcoin has the opportunity to seriously undercut such banking systems with lower costs, efficiency, convenience and speed. Bitcoin eleviates the need for users to have a bank account, which in many African countries is just not a possibility. In certain Middle-Eastern countries, females are still not permitted to earn an income for themselves, and if they do manage to work, are required to give their money to the head of their household. The final point of exchanging Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency in that country's fiat currency is an issue being tackled by many companies and offers huge potential for growth. This also provides African merchants to bypass the expensive charges of Visa and Mastercard when accepting payments from all around the world, opening up the global market to many African entrepreneurs.