The latest data from Bitcoin remittance app Bitwala reveals a growing trend in Bitcoin adoption among citizens of developing countries.
‘Steep Adoption Rate’
Bitwala, a Bitcoin-based remittance app, shared some user statistics in its blog post yesterday in which we can see that Bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular in certain developing countries. The blog post reveals a “steep adoption rate” in developing countries both from Africa and Asia, the two continents with the highest number of unbanked citizens.
Bitwala reveals that, while their early adopters came from Europe and North America, the total number of sign ups from developing countries is catching up to those of Europe and the U.S, making up approximately 30% of new signups globally.
Among the developing countries, most are from North Africa, a region that makes up for 4.4% of its website’s visitors.
This growing trend among developing countries, where financial exclusion is the norm, reveals a growing need for the citizens of these countries to interact with the world economy and to access financial services, typically provided by banks. However, these regions are also the ones where banking service fees are the highest.
At a cost of $4 billion per year, international transfers to Africa are the most expensive in the world. Furthermore, online and offline businesses also continue to pay a steep price for transferring money abroad or even domestically as the majority of banks charge between 10-19% on any transfers to, from and within African countries.
Bitcoin for the Unbanked
According to Bitwala, banks are not concerned with financial inclusion and prefer instead to charge higher fees in places where financial services are harder to access, taking full advantage of their monopoly in underbanked regions.
This is one of the reasons why Bitcoin is regarded as a game-changer by some. It has the ability to bypass middlemen bank, enabling direct value transfer while empowering users while giving people more control over their money.
“The strength of bitcoin and the blockchain technology that it relies on is that it allows you to send money across borders without paying the steep fees charged by traditional gatekeepers like Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria and others,” Bitwala explains.
According to 21.co, the cheapest transaction fee for a Bitcoin transaction is currently at around $0.50, or 0.0003616 btc. While, admittedly, not ideal for microtransactions, it’s still cheaper than the 10-19% charged by banks on “any transfers to, from and within African countries.”
But bitcoin is not only about cheaper remittances. It also gives people access to a growing number of financial services including e-commerce, peer-to-peer loans, and money management platforms, provided they have access to an internet connection.
As more and more people in these regions become aware of Bitcoin and its ability to empower them and to give them access to financial services globally and at much lower costs, Bitcoin will continue to attract users.
“People often say necessity is the mother of invention but I like to say necessity is also the mother of adoption,” Lightning CEO Elizabeth Stark says in the new documentary Blockchain and Us.
If there is a real use case that people need a technology for, they start using it.
Images courtesy of Bitwala, Shutterstock