Cryptocurrency without the internet for emerging markets

Innovators are now seriously courting ideas of having cryptocurrencies without the internet for emerging markets, due to slow connectivity rates.

The permeation of cryptocurrency in Africa is considerably smaller compared to its global rivals. According to a recent report, 2020: State of Cryptocurrency in Africa, only Nigeria and South Africa have beaten the global 7% ownership of cryptocurrency (percentage of internet users aged 16 to 64), at 11% and 13% respectively.

Digital market giants such as Kenya are below the ownership par at 5% after Ghana's 6%. However, other factors are limiting the extent of cryptocurrency use in most African countries.

"Although researchers have identified high ownership rates in certain countries, there is a significant lack of the typical infrastructure we see elsewhere such as nodes, mining operations, supporting merchants, ATMs and exchanges," the report suggests.

It explains: "Of the 10,267 Bitcoin nodes worldwide, just 20 (0.2%) are located in Africa. For Ethereum nodes, the number is smaller (12), but the percentage about the same (0.2%). Of the nodes that do exist, the vast majority are based in South Africa."

It indicates a lack of low-level adoption of the technology on the continent, the report commented.

Coupled with other reasons, internet access plays a huge part in employing more cryptocurrency enthusiasts. This is lacking in most peri-urban and rural areas, where the majority of potential users reside.

In certain aspects, experts expected the cryptocurrency use to surge in emerging markets thanks to the prevalence of mobile money. However, mobile money has thrived because the basic infrastructure is a simple telecom network and it is not dependant on internet connectivity, something that cryptocurrency heavily relies on. Interestingly, some projects are working to ensure crypto trade can happen without the internet, something that could attract more users in less connected regions.

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