Ghana-based blockchain company Bitsoko has recently got seriously engaged in the promotion of bitcoin to African countries. The initiative became possible thanks to the grant of $100,000 that Bitsoko won in Grand Challenges Explorations competition held by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates is known for its interest to potentially-beneficial innovations. During his interview on Bloomberg TV he called bitcoin an exciting opportunity due to its low-cost. He underlined that financial market does need such low-cost solution although current cryptocurrency market is not the best example of how it should look like.
Now having significant funding Bitsoko is planning to introduce bitcoin and blockchain to Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone with the project called “Enable Universal Acceptance of Mobile Money Payments”.
The company itself offers bitcoin services from money transfer to payment processing in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. Bitsoko team hopes that new technology that they are eager to bring to Africa will start a new chapter in local financial infrastructure development.
Bitsoko has already started its work and the first results are seen. Bejo’s bar, Chase Cyber Café and some other companies in Kenya now accept payment in bitcoin through Bitsoko. The team explains: “If you go to a restaurant and pay using bitcoin, the owner of the business will send us the bitcoin and receive mobile money in exchange. We are trying to build the infrastructure around bitcoin, which is lacking here”.
According to official information Bitsoko appears to be a sponsor of a series of Blockchain Events in Nairobi, Kenya. Monthly events will be held at the iHub innovation hub and will be devoted blockchain education and potential opportunities for local start-ups.
Biitsoko admits that $100,000 from Gates Foundation is a great contribution to their work. They used to invest mostly own money in the project. They have already got interest from some other investors who haven’t joined so far. It’s noteworthy that in case of project success the team will get one more grant of $1,000,000 so it’s particularly important for them now to do their best.
Concern brought up by Bitsoko has been urgent long enough – how to arrange presentable payment services in developing countries. People there simply don’t have access to financial products we take for granted which disables them to manage their funds. Grand Challenge aims exactly at overall acceptance of digital money to make transactions as simple and low-cost as possible.
Gibson Juma, a co-founder of Bitsoko, says how proud he is of what they are doing for people: “It has been exciting watching Bitsoko happen. When we started we were not quite sure about it, but immediately when we got the ball rolling the response was so nice.”
“It is great that people know it and actually use it. I have learnt that when you are starting something it is just you who really knows and believes in the product – and can envision what it will become. In fact you might look stupid to some people, but with time they will get to understand the idea. So if you really believe in an idea, just keep going,” he added.
It is still a long way to go to reach a wide-scale adoption of digital currencies but it’s nice to see how projects like Bitsoko dare and finally win.