Are there Bitcoin ATMS in Africa? Yes, there are. As of January 2022, this vast continent, Africa, boasts to having 15 Bitcoin ATM’s/ terminals. The terminals are geographically spread as below;
- South Africa (7)
- Ghana (2)
- Kenya (1)
- Botswana (1)
- Zimbabwe (1)
- Djibouti (1)
- Uganda (1)
In 2022, only 1,817 terminals were installed internationally compared to 2021 where 2,435 were installed; this represents a 25% decrease. But, is installation of Bitcoin ATM’s the future or a detour to innovation.
Africa is a continent that is, to some extent, in the very early stages of technological advancements, with most governments still either groping to understand the internet requirements of their citizens, still coming up with policies and procedures to govern the use of internet and still in the process of licensing the internet providers. The use of internet is very low, internet penetration is still very low with most of the countries still considering internet as a luxury item.
Looking at the current trends in innovation and technological advancement, Installation of the terminals could be the right thing to do, but to a wrong destination. To better understand, let’s be critical and analyze to see where most African countries stand in terms of technological advancement. Firstly, Software designers and innovators are coming up with P2P platforms and POS systems that are accustomed to work in different regions and different countries, are able to work with the monetary system of that given country. Secondly, Traders opting to trade in Crypto currencies or investors investing in crypto want flexibility and transparency i.e. want to be able to monitor the trends of prices if the crypto coins in the mobile devices ,they also want to be able to withdraw cash to the mobile devices to their banks accounts seamlessly. Lastly, the traders/investors want the adoption of payment methods to incorporate use of crypto currencies hence reducing the handling of physical cash.
The downside of Bitcoin terminals is that they are standard and not custom-made to specific areas, looking at an African country like Kenya, where already one terminal has been installed and working, the ATM doesn’t have the mechanisms to convert the Fiat currency into crypto currency and the minimum amount support by the ATM is Kes500. This amount is low and affordable but this poses a challenged to an individual who would have wished to purchase Bitcoins but of a lesser amount. Another challenged experienced is the Bitcoin ATMs have limitations to the number coins one can purchase e.g. Kenyan ATM only allow purchase of Bitcoins and Litecoin ,what happens to an investor who is interested in Tether and other alter coins? and lastly the geographical placement of the ATM is a limitation as people have to travel to withdraw or make purchase.
Experts have cited that the decline in installation could be as a result of poor government policies and their non involvement in regulating and even licensing the use of crypto currencies and secondly, installation of the terminals is expensive and would require full adoption of the use of crypto’s to justify the need and lastly, the fast innovation of mobile APPs and platforms is also great limitation.
Please note, that that the reported decline is only for the 1st quarter of 2022, as the year progresses the number of installations might pick up as more and more people adopt and understand crypto currencies.