Several countries around the world have embraced Bitcoin with open arms, likewise, the “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria. Recent data shows that the West African nation is leading other African countries in cryptocurrency adoption. Also, investors in the country show no concern despite Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN) warnings on the risks associated with cryptocurrencies.
Google Trends Show Nigeria Ranks Top for the Bitcoin Search Term
A quick look at Google Trends for the search term “Bitcoin” shows that Nigeria is the country with the highest number of searches for the term. Specifically, a surge in interest in bitcoin began in 2016 and since then, the country has maintained this high-level interest.
Interestingly, other countries like South Africa, Austria, Switzerland, and Ghana also rank top for the search term. However, Nigeria’s level of interest is significantly higher. Binance Research, an arm of Binance cryptocurrency exchange also revealed in 2019, that interest in Bitcoin shifted from the Western Hemisphere to the Eastern Hemisphere. And in this case, Africa where Nigeria also ranks top.
Nigeria’s Weekly Bitcoin Trading Volume on LocalBitcoins Surges
Coin.Dance shows that Nigeria has a weekly Bitcoin trading volume of about 500 million Naira (around $1 million) on LocalBitcoins. Nonetheless, this trading volume is significantly lower compared to December 2017, when the country recorded 2 billion Naira ($5 million) in weekly Bitcoin trades.
In line with that, Blockstale, a Nigerian-owned blockchain company launched the first Bitcoin ATM in the West African country, thereby giving residents more access to Bitcoin. The country also follows the footsteps of African countries like South African, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Kenya who have these machines already.
Factors Contributing to the Surge of Interest in Bitcoin
On the other hand, a couple of factor leads to why Nigerians show a lot of interest in cryptocurrencies. For starters, the country is rated as Africa’s biggest economy in terms of nominal GDP. However, the oil-rich nation is still battling socio-economic problems. A 2018 report revealed that 87 million out of 200 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day.
The report also noted that “By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today.” Accordingly, several citizens have turned to cryptocurrency trading as a source of livelihood.
What’s more, Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN) placed currency controls to restrict people’s access to the dollar in 2016. As such, many citizens resorted to other alternatives to make international payments. One major alternative was Bitcoin.
It’s worth noting that this high-level adoption in Nigeria occurs in the face of warnings from the country’s central bank. In January 2017, CBN sent a circular to warn banks and other financial institutions in the country about the risks associated with virtual currencies.