According to figures compiled by Statista, almost one third (32%) of the Nigerian populace own or have owned bitcoin in the past. That’s the highest percentage of any country in the world, with the nearest competitors Vietnam (21%) and the Philippines (20%) lagging some way behind.
So why, exactly, is Nigeria proving to be a world leader when it comes to the cryptocurrency? Although it’s the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria has not traditionally been associated with being at the cutting edge of financial innovation. Nonetheless, a unique combination of circumstances has made Bitcoin exceedingly popular in the country. Here are a handful of the most significant factors in the equation.
Despite having a larger population and a higher GDP than any other nation on the continent, Nigeria’s economy is not in the best shape at the present time. The naira has been depreciating in value for several years now, while unemployment levels are concerningly high and a staggering 40% of the population is living underneath the poverty line. The lack of conventional job opportunities has prompted Nigerians to seek alternative methods of earning and spending money – which is one reason why Bitcoin has enjoyed a surge in popularity.
With a median age of just 18 years old, Nigeria has one of the most youthful populations in the world. This goes some way to explaining the aforementioned problems with regard to employment opportunities (greater competition for fewer jobs), but it also means that Nigerians are more flexible and open to new technologies. Indeed, the majority of the populace is supremely comfortable in handling all financial matters online, which is something that can’t be said for many other places around the world.
As an impoverished country with few jobs available, millions of Nigerians have emigrated abroad to find a better life elsewhere. However, they maintain strong ties with the family they have left behind, which means there is a substantial volume of remittances that are sent back home by the diaspora. The ease of transactions inherent in the blockchain technology underpinning Bitcoin means that Nigerians abroad can send money home easily, securely and affordably, making the cryptocurrency far more attractive than conventional means of transfer.
Although the Nigerian authorities have categorically banned banking institutions from accepting cryptocurrency and warned the population against its adoption, Bitcoin continues to go from strength to strength in the country. This has been facilitated (and has prompted) a wide array of exchanges and outlets where people can buy, sell and exchange bitcoin for goods and services. From tracking down the best platform to invest in crypto to sourcing a crypto betting site, it’s much easier to handle the currency in Nigeria than it is in many other parts of the globe.
A combination of economic strife, a youthful population, a high volume of remittance payments and the ubiquity of sites and stores which process bitcoin all contribute towards making Nigeria a hotbed of activity for the cryptocurrency.