Reports are that Nigerians are increasingly considering cryptocurrency as a strategic investment.
Dele Bello vividly remembers relocating to Lagos from Warri, a town in Southern Nigeria, almost five years ago in search of greener pastures. After graduating from university, the dream of making it big in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling cosmopolitan metropolis, was not only a way to pursue his dreams of making it as a software engineer but most importantly, a way of supporting his mother and sister back home.
However, things didn’t go according to plan. After sending out over 500 job applications and receiving no call backs, Bello found himself doing various odd jobs including at one point in time providing security services for a bank.
“I remember speaking to someone from the bank who initially introduced me to this thing called bitcoin and as someone with a computer science background I was immediately intrigued. I went home and began doing research into this and the rest is history,” says Bello.
That was the beginning of his breakthrough moment. With just $200 as an initial start, Bello is now a full-time bitcoin trader with over $400,000 worth of cryptocurrency. His mother and sister now live with him in the five-bedroom house he built in Magodo, a suburb in Lagos. Bello is one of millions of bitcoin evangelists in Nigeria, currently lauded as a global leader in bitcoin trade according to a report by the BBC.
Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, also considers Nigeria one of its most important markets with over 60,215 bitcoins traded between 2015 and 2020 accounting for almost $566 million. According to the platform, Nigeria is the second largest bitcoin market after the United States.
“I always say bitcoin is the miracle that will take Nigerian youths out of poverty. When the Nigerian government tried to shut us down during the EndSars protests, they blocked all forms of online payments and mobile money transactions to slow down the movement and guess what saved the day? Bitcoin,” avers Bello.
What makes Nigeria a particularly interesting cryptocurrency market is that in February 2021, its central bank banned commercial banks from dealing with cryptocurrencies claiming it was a “direct contravention of existing law”.
Despite the restrictions, cryptocurrency exchange platform, KuCoin claims that 33.4 million Nigerians still consider cryptocurrency as a strategic investment.
The country still ranked sixth in the 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index which was published by blockchain analytics organization Chainalysis last year. The platform also reported that the cryptocurrency market in Africa grew by 1,200% in 2021.
The adoption rate of cryptocurrency is so rapid in Nigeria, that it made the central bank try to get in on the action. The eNaira, a digital form of the naira and the first national digital currency in Africa, according to Nigeria’s apex bank, was launched In October 2021. According to a speech by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari during the launch, the eNaira and the adoption of blockchain technology can boost the country’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.