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The African Bitcoin Ecosystem

While Africa has not yet witnessed the high level of cryptocurrency adoption that the United States, Europe, and the UK have seen, there are several start-ups and individuals in Africa that are building an African bitcoin ecosystem by leveraging bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, to deliver innovative services to African consumers and businesses. Bitcoin in Africa is growing and in this guide you will find all the players that are making that happen.

African Bitcoin Exchanges

In Africa, there are currently four exchanges offering locals on the continent the opportunity to trade bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. Luno, BitcoinFundi, ice3x and NairaEx. The most popular way to exchange bitcoin into local African currency is still the local peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins.com, but the newer African exchanges are witnessing increases in trading volumes in 2016 indicating a rising bitcoin adoption in Africa.

There is also a range of international exchanges that offer Africans the opportunity to trade cryptocurrencies. Most notably, there are BitStamp and Kraken who are successfully servicing African cryptocurrency traders.

African Bitcoin & Blockchain Start-Ups

The main hubs for bitcoin in Africa are Accra (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya) and Cape Town (South Africa). However, there are more and more cryptocurrency-based start-ups emerging across the continent. Below you will find a list of all Africa-based bitcoin and blockchain start-ups to give you an overview of Africa’s bitcoin ecosystem.

Botswana

Satoshicentre Pty (Bitcoin Hub & Marketplace)

The Satoshi Centre aims to become the Botswana’s first marketplace in which all transactions are conducted with bitcoin. The center is located in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, and functions as a commerce center in which merchants can accept bitcoin payments for any and all products. The idea is to bring multiple Bitcoin ATMs to Botswana, which will be strategically placed throughout the area and will allow customers to exchange their Pulas, US dollars, or Euros for bitcoins.

 

Ghana

Bitland (Blockchain-based Land Title Registry)

BitLandBitland is a start-up that aims to allow individuals and organizations to survey land and record deeds onto the Bitshares blockchain. As the pilot project is working out of Kumasi, Ghana, the team is looking to expand their reach further into the African continent. As the company grows, they look to build infrastructure in developing countries to potentially unlock billions of dollars in untapped property rights.

 

Dream Bitcoin Foundation (Non-Profit Bitcoin Awareness)

The mission of the Dream Bitcoin Foundation is to facilitate greater usage and acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an alternative form of payment by providing an online cryptocurrency exchange platform and merchant solutions. Dream Bitcoin Foundation will be raising bitcoin funds for projects that will build a bright future for the country by bringing together all young, ambitious and self-determining entrepreneurs and enabling them to achieve their dreams, without the need for government assistance.

PayPlux (Electronic Payments)

PayPluxPayPlux offers payment solutions to large companies as well as individuals wishing to exchange or transfer funds in and outside Ghana. PayPlux is dedicated to becoming the industry leader in e-Currencies, payment solutions and related services for companies and individuals in Ghana and Nigeria.

PmCedi (E-Wallet & Electronic Payments)

pmcedisPmCedis Capital is a company that is providing e-wallet top-up and withdrawal service in small and medium quantities. It devotes itself to providing stable, efficient and reliable professional service for international and local customers. Since the company is officially the authorized agent for payment systems such as PerfectMoney, Bitcoin, LiteCoin and WebMoney, it has a stable reserve that can meet customers’ business needs.

 

Kenya

BitHub Africa (Blockchain Accelerator & Advisory)

BitHub AfricaBitHub Africa is a Nairobi-based blockchain accelerator and advisory firm that aims to empower Kenyan blockchain and fintech start-ups. It is run by Kenyan bitcoin pioneer John Karanja who founded the company in December 2015. He was recently interviewed by BitcoinAfrica.io. The company provides analytical, development, maintenance and support services for organizations interested in deploying blockchain solutions. BitHub also trains and hosts blockchain developers at the hub in Nairobi creating the best pool of expertise in this area across the African continent.

BitPesa (Remittances)

BitPesaBitPesa is a well-funded bitcoin B2B money transfer platform for African businesses. It is headquartered in Nairobi, with offices in Lagos, London, and San Francisco. The goal of BitPesa is to allow businesses to send payments to and from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania at a low cost through leveraging bitcoin and the blockchain.

Bitsoko (Mobile Wallet)

bitsokoBitsoko is an Android mobile wallet that implements blockchain technology in a bid to both remove the cost of transferring money between two individuals and to increase access to payment services. BitSoko aims to integrate blockchain technology into current mobile money platforms in Africa and, thereby, allowing funds to be sent from the developed world through bitcoin to be received as mobile money.

Umati Blockchain Limited (Blockchain Advisory)

AmatiUmati is a blockchain advisory firm that was started by Kenyan bitcoin pioneer Michael Kimani and developer Matthew McIlhenny.

 

 

Nigeria

NairaEx (Bitcoin Exchange)

NairaExNaira Exchange is a Nigeria-based bitcoin and e-currencies exchange. Its platform allows users to buy and sell bitcoin and other e-currencies, such as Web Money and Perfect Money, and allows users to send and receive payments into their e-wallet and local bank accounts.

 

South Africa

Bankymoon (Blockchain-based Solutions & Services)

Bankymoon is a South African start-up that builds blockchain-based solutions and offers consulting services for businesses. in 2015, Bankymoon created the world’s first blockchain smart metering solution for power and utility grids in South Africa.

Luno (Formerly BitX) (Bitcoin Wallet & Exchange)

BitXLuno is one of Africa’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges and mobile wallets. With BitX’s bitcoin wallet, you can store your bitcoins securely and access it anytime, anywhere using your smartphone. Also, you can email bitcoins to anyone quickly as well as buy and sell bitcoin in supported countries in Africa.

CubeBucks (Mobile Wallet)

Cube BucksCubebucks aims to offer a stable exchange between the USD and bitcoin by applying an application layer to the blockchain protocol to facilitate micropayments.

 

Custos Media Technologies (Blockchain-based music piracy prevention)

CustosCustos Media Technologies is a technology company that aims to fight media piracy by leveraging blockchain technology. The process involves embedding an invisible and difficult-to-remove watermark into the digital content. The watermark, in this case, being a Bitcoin private key. If the watermarked content is then leaked, there is a small bitcoin reward that can be collected by the first person to find it.

Ice3x (Bitcoin Exchange)

Ice3XIce3x is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows bitcoin and litecoin trading in South African Rand and Nigerian Naira. It is one of the leading African cryptocurrency exchanges.

 

PayFast (Payments)

PayFastPayFast is a payment processing service for South Africans and South African websites. It enables easy, secure and instant transfer of money between online buyers and sellers. The company offers bitcoin as a payment option, making it available to the firm’s 30,000 merchant customers. It becomes the first payment processor in South Africa, and one of the first anywhere, to offer the cryptocurrency as an option.

The Sun Exchange (Peer-to-Peer Lending)

sun_exchange_logo-webThe Sun Exchange is a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects people wanting to invest in solar energy with people who want to access it. Its platform promises to turn digital currency into solar energy with seamless international revenue distribution providing an earning of more than 10% annual returns in the process. It hosts solar projects worldwide for interested investors to choose for a portfolio. All the investor needs is a bank account or a bitcoin wallet to invest.

GeoPay (Peer-to-Peer Remittances)

GeoPayGeoPay is a peer-to-peer blockchain remittance platform for people living in the diaspora to transfer money across borders instantly. The service provided is cheap and fast without any bitcoin knowledge necessary. This is done through network agents in the informal settlement to cater for the unbanked population mainly in Africa. GeoPay charges a minimum cost of less than 3% per transaction allowing users to do micro transactions for the financially excluded population between countries for grocery items, education, health, and sanitation.

 

Zimbabwe

BitMari (Mobile Wallet & Financial Solutions)

Bitmari offers a bitcoin mobile wallet, bitcoin-based remittances and financial solutions for the African market based in Zimbabwe. Their remittance service is expected to incur a 5% fee. In addition to remittance services, Bitmari is exploring financing land reform for farmers. Bitmari chose to establish itself in Zimbabwe on account of the country’s high cell phone penetration, high literacy rate, high mobile banking usage and a willingness to adopt new currencies. An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans living outside the country sent $1.8 billion in remittance payments in 2014, according to StartJoin, a crowdfunding site that Bitmari used to raise money last year.

BitFinance (Mobile Wallet & Bitcoin Exchange)

BitFinance is a leading African bitcoin start-up based in Zimbabwe.  The company allows users to buy and sell bitcoins using their bank account or mobile money via its bitcoin exchange BitcoinFundi and is introducing a Bitcoin “smart” ATM to Africa. BitFinance came into existence in November 2014 and the initial vision was to not only introduce Bitcoin technology but make bitcoins easy to use on a day to day basis.

 

International Bitcoin Start-Ups with an Africa Focus

BitRefill (Bitcoin Mobile Top Up Service)

BitRefillBitRefill is a mobile top-up service that allows people to purchase additional minutes on their pre-paid phones with bitcoin. The company services a wide range of mobile operators, including AT&T and Verizon. The company is a graduate of the Boost VC accelerator and provides its bitcoin mobile top-up service across the majority of Africa.

Cashaa (Bitcoin-based Remittances)

CashaaCashaa is a London-based peer-to-peer cash marketplace that leverages cryptocurrencies for the purpose of remittances. What Cashaa does is basically to match the cash transfer requests submitted by anybody in the world and the live deals posted by the cryptocurrency traders around the world. By doing so, Cashaa generates a win-win situation and a benefit for both cash senders and cryptocurrency traders.

Kobocoin (Payments)

KoboCoinKobocoin is a London-based digital currency and payment system similar to Bitcoin, but with an African heritage. Kobocoin aims to facilitate remittances into Africa by delivering a fast and low-cost way of transferring money globally.

TikeBit (Cryptocurrency Vouchers)

TikeBitTikeBit is a simple and fast way to access to the cryptocurrencies. You don’t need banks or credit cards, you can use cash. It’s a voucher that you can buy in your local retail store and later you can redeem it for cryptocurrencies like bitcoins or ether.

 

Accelerators, Incubators & Hubs in Africa

There are several start-up accelerators on the African continent that are supporting bitcoin and blockchain start-ups.

Barclays Rise – Cape Town

The Barclays Rise Accelerator, which is powered by Techstars, has now embraced Cape Town and is promising to be a gateway to many of the fastest growing global economies of the world. It is also offering a 13-week programme that promises to tap into this strong financial centre and offer mentorship, support and a wealth of money-can’t-buy knowledge and experience. Start-ups will also gain access to mentors, industry experts, and Barclays executives globally.

Blockchain Academy – Cape Town

The Blockchain Academy provides training for financial institutions, organizations, corporates, developers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, schools, and government on digital currencies and blockchain technology. The Blockchain Academy was established to help individuals better understand how this technology can improve incumbent organizations, systems, and processes so that they can develop their own applications using this innovative and disruptive technology.

BitHub Africa – Nairobi

BitHub Africa is a Nairobi-based blockchain accelerator and advisory firm that aims to empower Kenyan blockchain and fintech start-ups. It is run by Kenyan bitcoin pioneer John Karanja who founded the company in December 2015. He was recently interviewed by BitcoinAfrica.io. The company provides analytical, development, maintenance and support services for organizations interested in deploying blockchain solutions. BitHub also trains and hosts blockchain developers at the hub in Nairobi creating the best pool of expertise in this area across the African continent.

Dream Bitcoin Foundation – Accra

The mission of Dream Bitcoin Foundation is to facilitate the greater usage and acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an alternative form of payment by providing an online cryptocurrency exchange platform and merchant solutions. Dream Bitcoin Foundation will be raising bitcoin funds for projects to build a bright future for the country by bringing together all young, ambitious and self-determining entrepreneurs and enabling them to achieve their dreams, without the need for government assistance.

 

** If you are an Africa-based start-up involved in the cryptocurrency space and you have not been mentioned on this list, please contact us and you will be added immediately. This is intended to be a growing database to reflect the expanding bitcoin economy in Africa. **