Kenya and indeed East Africa looks set to champion a cause for the use of cryptocurrency as payments for consumer goods and small scale business services within the region.
A notable example is one of Kenya’s health services provider, Health Land Spa, which has started taking Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as means of payment for services, in a bid to ensure accountability and curb losses.
With the introduction of cryptocurrencies, customers can now use their digital wallets to make payments for spa services which include – massage, pedicure, beauty treatments and more. Also, besides the more common Bitcoin, the facility has introduced support for DASH payments as it plans to accept more cryptocurrencies in coming months.
Explaining his choice of cryptocurrency payments, Tony Mwongera, founder of Nairobi-based Health Blockchain remarks:
I resorted to bitcoin payment to curb revenue loss. There was so much theft in my business, so I asked myself, why don’t I use technology which is safe and secure. I chose bitcoin as the mode of payment.
Food vendors are not left out of the trend, Betty’s restaurant a popular food/roasted beef vendor in Nyeri is one of the first business outlets in Kenya to start accepting cryptocurrencies.
In an interview with BBC, Mrs Wambugu (Owner of Betty’s restaurant) states;
Bitcoin is a means of payment and like any other restaurant, we accept it here – the same way we do with cash. Since the world is becoming more global, my place is also becoming a global restaurant. I attract different customers from different parts of the world, whichever coin they have as long as it’s a viable coin, we accept it.
“My relationship with bitcoin started much earlier before i even accepted to use the digital coin. I had used my cryptocurrency savings to buy a two-storey building, which i later converted into Betty’s place”. She continued.
Despite a low turnout of $300 from about 20 customers, Wambugu has taken up tutoring classes at her restaurant on Sundays to encourage cryptocurrency utility; just as she faults the authorities for not being swift on the emerging technology.
The Spa and restaurant are not the first and only merchants accepting bitcoin payments in Kenya; many other service providers and utility facilities have adopted digital currency payments. Other notable mentions include, a local electrical product provider – Boxlight Electronics which accepts Bitcoin core (BTC) and Bitcoin cash (BCH) payments for a range of electrical appliances.
According to Boxlight CEO, he says;
We received tons of requests from our customers to pay using digital currencies. As a company whose 90 percent of customers are young, tech savvy and predominantly online; we choose to be all inclusive and adapt to the needs of those that prefer this type of currency.
The Rise of Crypto Payments in East Africa
Kenya and Uganda have both seen an increase in acceptance of cryptocurrencies especially for payments. This rise is not entirely surprising as the government of both nations especially Kenya has been greatly involved in progressive projects in blockchain technology and a friendly environment for cryptocurrency start ups and conferences.
In Uganda’s capital of Kampala, a restaurant owner Jenifer Birungi also accepts BTC; a decision which she says was easy to make as the capital city is home to some prominent bitcoin evangelists like Richard Bagorogo.
NOTE: At this time, Kenya’s economy is rated one of the top 25 cryptocurrency markets in the world and third in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa.
What are your thoughts on bitcoin for payments in Africa? Would you accept cryptocurrency payments for your goods or services? Leave comments below.