How I got involved in bitcoin
I first heard about Bitcoin in 2014, from one of my staff, but quickly dismissed it as some crafty international scam. At that time, 1 bitcoin was selling for $550 but fast-forward three later and that same coin now goes for over $1200. The global awakening to this new economic frontier is unprecedented and the national adoption of this digital currency is truly phenomenal!
I created a simple mobile cooperative & thrift contributions solution; a fintech firm in 2014 but it didn’t do well due to lack of effective managerial and leadership skills. However, I have learnt several valuable lessons from the experience and am willing to start again.
What the crypto industry is like in Nigeria
In Nigeria, the wake-up call started a little above three years when the fad bit the nation like a bug stings its victim. At first, there was scanty information, then scattered and very unorganized independent operators exchanged bitcoin for either naira or dollars. I believe it must have been an uphill task because the vast majority of people really did not understand this new craze. Nevertheless, there was a cluster of bitcoin merchants usually populated around the very international hotels in Lagos such as Eko Hotel, VI; Four-Point by Sheraton, Lekki etc.
As this was going on in Lagos, other people had also penetrated it into Abuja, but had the same challenges as trading in Lagos. Adoption at first was poor due to the lack of concrete understanding and more importantly, most Nigerians had been defrauded in various kinds of financial scams, so people who did not care to understand it just tagged it another ponzi scheme.
One interesting thing is that Nigeria has a virile, vibrant and dynamic population of young people, who mostly have entrepreneurial blood flowing through their veins. Due to the harsh economic system in the country, an average Nigerian is very business-savvy and street smart, so as to survive on a day to day basis – this is called hustling. And for that fact, the population that began interfacing and experimenting with the new solution were the young demographics that did not necessarily know anything about programming or coding; they were basically regular guys who just wanted to survive.
As the trend of adoption since 2014 began to rise, more and more people began to see the vast opportunities and endless possibilities this singular solution wields – it was just mind-blowing! Seminars began springing up from different places, certification courses in cryptocurrency emerged; all sorts of merchants began to populate the scenery. The early adopters began recruiting their friends to get on board, the story was too exciting and the possibility of a new set of multi-millionaire (if not billionaires) was like opium for the vast majority who heard about it.
Very soon, the dust of the coin got settled on the wind-shield of the government in late 2016 and by early 2017, they warned the commercial banks not to carry out any transaction with bitcoin or its alternative. This further strengthened the position of the little guy on the street hustling, giving him a chance to also make some quick turnaround, because if the banks had gotten involved early on, there is every tendency to muzzle the emerging industry with their strength and size, intimidating the little players. Central banks and other commercial banks are still studying the blockchain technology to discern how best to take advantage of the industry.
Where I think it’s going
At the moment – in less than four years, Nigerians have been creating multiple ways to access bitcoin locally. Some of the solutions created so far are several well structured corporate exchanges, where people can trade BTC/NGN. Also, several institutions are springing up, to do certificate course training on how to use cryptocurrencies. Some people have positioned themselves as crypto-consultants, giving ideas, advice, partnership, resources, support etc. In my own case, I am working towards developing a marketing strategy to help boost Bitcoin adoption locally. In Nigeria, we are proactive, dynamic, risk-seeking, daring, impassioned, and because of this, we always seek to do something creative.
Hence, the crypto industry is still very virgin in Nigeria. Someone intends to take this same crypto and create a curriculum out of it, fit for nursery and primary pupil; so if any discerning person from around the world wants to maximize profit in a short time, they should look at Nigeria to invest in.
One thing I can say about Nigerians is that we seek opportunities aggressively because the pangs of poverty bite so hard that we are always looking for the next available wave to ride out of the quagmire. So in another three years of active operation, the crypto industry will be churning out multi-millionaires in Nigeria.