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Op-Ed

Beyond the Hype – Understanding Bitcoin’s Unique Route to Mass Adoption

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Mass Adoption

Every new technology goes through its own distinct journey to notoriety. From the first introduction to the market to mass adoption, no two technologies go through the same journey but even the most seasoned technology observers will tell you that no other innovation has seen a hype cycle like what Bitcoin (perhaps the most popular cryptocurrency) is going through at the moment.

The hype cycle is not scientific and is not meant to be predictive but it is a useful guideline for gauging what the informed public opinion is. The cycle, using Gartner’s famous model, usually starts from the technology trigger – the point at which the technology is first introduced – followed by the peak of inflated expectations as adopters over-emphasise the new technology’s benefits. Due to this over-emphasis, the next thing to happen is the inevitable trough of disillusionment, where the expectations are corrected and brought in line with reality.

This is followed by the slope of enlightenment, during which some uses are identified for the technology, marking the beginning of widespread adoption. The final stage in the hype cycle is the plateau of productivity, where users become accustomed to the technology and its benefits are accepted as the norm.

For Bitcoin, the trigger was the launch in 2009 and the peak of inflated expectations was in 2016-17 when prices exploded and everyone was keen to jump on the bandwagon. Many commentators believe that Bitcoin is now in the trough of disillusionment. Some have even said that price volatility may be an indication of public sentiment, with reports of scams and unrealistic promises putting off some serious investors.

More Use Cases And Growing Acceptance

bitcoin

Some other commentators believe that cryptocurrencies are going through the slope of enlightenment, with growing acceptance and use cases across industries. For example, in Africa, cryptocurrencies are emerging as a viable option for making the newly-signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) more effective. By providing a range of viable options for secure cross-border payments, cryptocurrencies are gaining acceptance across the continent. 

Traditional financial services companies are also rolling out institutional Bitcoin trading services. Various organisations are looking into how they could use Bitcoin to improve their businesses. For example, people are starting to use Bitcoin to solve problems, such as those linked to credit card fraud in the airline industry. The price is now linked to the value of the technology, not just hype. Cryptocurrencies, in general, are also improving and becoming more usable – cheaper, faster and safer.

The Impact of Facebook Libra

Along with the increased acceptance and use cases, there is also the announcement of Facebook Libra and the impact that is bound to have on global perceptions. With Facebook’s universality, there is reason to believe that the new currency will bring the much-heralded benefits of cryptocurrencies to more people than ever before.

When the conversation around cryptocurrencies first started, there was a level of uncertainty around its credibility and whether or not it should be taken seriously. However, with use cases more widely available, there are reasons to believe that mass adoption is just around the corner.

At this point, the only likely hindrance to mass adoption would be an inability to see the point or understand the potential benefits of adopting cryptocurrencies. This is why access to comprehensive, accurate information that anyone can understand without knowing the finer details of the technology is very important. If we are able to successfully make this happen, we might just be one step closer to delivering on the promise of cryptocurrencies.

This article was contributed by Marius Reitz, General Manager for Africa at Luno.

Op-Ed

Op-Ed: The Blockchain Holds Massive Employment Opportunities for Africa’s Youth

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blockchain employment opportunities

Constituting 19 percent of the global population, the large population of youth in Africa is what prompted the term ‘Africa Rising’. For the rest of the world, this growing population presents a growing consumer base.

However, while the world looks at the 226 million African youth as a potential market for their products, it is also important to recognise the ingenuity, determination, and grit of this demographic. Anyone who lives in Africa knows that we are problem solvers. We make do without government social security or financing options; we wake up every day and put food on the table.

How Does the Blockchain Fit in?

According to ConsenSys, the main reason why Africa is leading the blockchain revolution is that we do not have any legacy systems that get in the way. Talk about every dark cloud having a silver lining. And if you know anything about blockchain, then you know that it has the potential to disrupt everything. From the way we process our birth certificates to the way we process financial transactions.

With over 350 million people unbanked, weak currencies, poor identifications systems, and widespread corruption, we can almost say that the blockchain was made for Africa.

blockchain employment opportunitiesAccording to Digest Africa, African countries had the highest number of online searches for “blockchain” and “bitcoin” in 2017. Africa is also the world’s 2nd fastest growing economy according to the African Development Group. To top it all off, the Internet Society is partnering with Facebook to expand Internet connectivity throughout Africa.

Can the writing on the wall get any clearer? It is the perfect time for African youth to rewrite the future. Forget about the degree you studied on campus, it’s time to unlearn. Forget about the usual employment rituals, dare to try something new. Forget about waiting for a teacher to come and teach you about blockchain, self-learning is your friend. Most importantly, forget about your local work market, think global. Therein lies endless employment opportunities for African youth.

The rest of the world might say Africa is rising because of our booming youth population. But we know Africa is rising because of a thriving youth population which is skilled, informed, emotionally intelligent, has a knack for solving problems and can negotiate at the table.

In the same vein, some may think that only developers or programmers can cash in on blockchain jobs but keep in mind a blockchain system cannot exist in isolation. A blockchain-based company will still need marketers, salespeople, PR professionals, researchers, creatives and innovators.

It is inevitable that blockchain will create millions of jobs as we continue to leverage it to solve some of Africa’s most pressing challenges. It is like we are back in the 90’s when the Internet exploded, only this time it is the blockchain and we are ready for the race.

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