Cryptocurrencies, in particular, Bitcoin have been simmering away in the background for a while, but over the past couple of years, they have exploded into the mainstream. Zimbabweans have adopted these payment methods fairly readily, but perhaps aren’t using them to their full capacity. Although not a direct neighbour to Zimbabwe, Nigeria faces many of the political and social issues that Zimbabwe faces, and they are the biggest Bitcoin user in the world. According to a survey by Statista around 32% of Nigerians have used a cryptocurrency. The next biggest user is Vietnam at just 21%. There’s obviously a reason that Nigeria has seized cryptocurrencies so rapidly, but what is it, and could it help Zimbabwe?
The most obvious reason for Nigeria’s uptake of Bitcoin is that it is totally decentralized. With fluctuating exchange rates offered by the central bank, many people are naturally a little hesitant to leave their savings in Nigerian Nairas. 1986 marked the beginning of a turbulent relationship between the naira and the United States Dollar (USD). Over the next decades, wild fluctuations in price happened, which made a handful of people incredibly rich and a huge number of people very, very poor. A lot of this was down to the fluctuation in oil price and the apparent inability of the Nigerian government to create any oil reserves for when crashes in price inevitably happened. This has left Nigeria in a terrible state, with one USD being equal to more than 400 Naira, before 1986, prices were relatively stable at 1 USD for 60 Kobo, or 0.6 Naira. To put this into perspective, if someone had kept their 500,000 Naira fortune in Naira in a Nigerian bank in 1986 it would’ve been worth 833,333 in USD, today it would be worth 1250 USD. It’s clear to see why cryptocurrency has had such an enthusiastic welcome in Nigeria, people simply do not feel it is safe to keep large quantities of money in the local currency.
With the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe, for many, the thought of investing in Bitcoin is nothing more than a dream. The local currency that was reintroduced in 2019 has caused such enormous inflation that even wage increases of 50% are leaving full-time workers unable to cater for even their basic needs. For those who can afford to change their money from ZD to any kind of cryptocurrency, the message should be crystal clear, it’s a good idea. Whilst cryptocurrency markets are known for being volatile, their general trajectory is upwards, the general trajectory of Zimbabwean Dollars, on the other hand, has been sharply down for more than a year now. So, in terms of ensuring the value of one’s savings, there’s an obvious reason why Zimbabwe should follow in Nigeria’s footsteps, but what about for everyday use, is it practical?
Bitcoin is already in regular use in the country, both through trading and through purchasing goods and services. One of the biggest benefits of cryptocurrencies is that they don’t rely on a central bank to be processed, meaning that transactions can sometimes be quicker in cryptocurrencies than in traditional currencies. This has meant that people have begun to see the potential in Bitcoin casinos and use those instead of casinos that only Zimbabwean dollars. Vegas Slots Online has created a list of casinos that accept Bitcoin, all of them security checked and available for anyone with the cryptocurrency to use. They review each site independently to ensure that customers of the site have a positive experience. Whilst it wasn’t so long ago that using Bitcoin was something only those very experienced felt comfortable doing, it’s now possible for anyone with an internet connection and an e-wallet.
Of course, online casinos are only a small sector of companies enabling the use of cryptocurrencies. Another way that Zimbabweans are already seeing the benefits of this currency is those engaging in foreign work. As the ZD is so volatile, some foreign companies are offering to pay their Zimbabwean employees in Bitcoin. It is legal to trade in the currency in Zimbabwe and is likely to be a more accurate reflection of the work that they have completed than ZD would be. The ability to be paid in this currency could be life-changing for those fortunate enough to work for overseas companies.