The present-day reality in Nigeria is one many believe is firmly entrenched in the weaponization of ignorance and poverty for the sole purpose of disenfranchising the majority. The ruling oligarchy, while enjoying the commonwealth of the people, propagates a message of “living within one’s means,” a euphemism, some say, for the glorification of poverty that simultaneously casts aspersions on the desire to achieve economic and financial emancipation.
Within that alleged construct of this tyrannical state-sponsored weaponization of poverty lies a veritable tipping point for greater Bitcoin adoption in Lagos and other places in Nigeria. The core principle of BTC lies in libertarian ideals that are at odds with the socialist politics of mass economic disenfranchisement.
Data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that about 31 million of the country’s population own bank accounts. Figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) show 83 million registered voters. The fact that the total addressable market for business in Nigeria is 63 percent less than the total number of eligible voters paints an alarming picture.
Bitcoin is a multi-billion-dollar market that encompasses more than a cross-border payment system. It represents the ability to build a decentralized global market infrastructure free from censorship. Thus, there exist a myriad opportunities for greater BTC adoption in a mega city like Lagos.
With such a high percentage of unbanked and underbanked people, especially in rural areas, increased BTC adoption presents a viable alternative to traditional banking services. Places in Southeast Asia that suffer from the same problem are already showing a considerable increase in cryptocurrency adoption.
Greater emphasis on creating more user-friendly methods of making BTC payments could see the technology spread to rural areas where the people might not be as tech-savvy as their urban counterparts. The bulk of unbanked and underbanked people live in these impoverished, rural settlements, as it is in most other places in the world.
Increased BTC adoption can help to create an expanded set of “means” within which ambitious and upwardly mobile people who pursue legitimate livelihoods can improve their standard of living. This outcome will, however, remain unattainable if the allure of BTC remains firmly rooted in the realms of being a “side hustle.”
Victor Alagbe of OneWattSolar encapsulates the need for a more broad-based approach to Bitcoin and blockchain technology in Lagos, Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, declaring:
“I think the fact that the Nigerian market is interested in crypto is good for the eventual mainstream adoption of Blockchain technology. Blockchain introduces trust in inherently trustless environments such as ours; hence, when Blockchain-powered projects (DApps) that are not overly bundled with crypto hits the mass-market, they’ll probably be quick to gain traction.”
There are far larger social and economic implications at play than Bitcoin as a dollar substitute. By creating useful technological and financial products and services centered on Bitcoin, the top-ranked cryptocurrency could potentially create far greater utility for Lagos — and Nigeria as a whole