Bitcoin (BTC) is for everyone. For you, for Michael Saylor in Miami, and for 38-year-old Jorge, a Mozambican family man who uses the largest cryptocurrency to make ends meet.
Jorge, who goes by his first name for reasons of anonymity, lives in the tiny village of Bomba on Mozambique’s southeast coast. Since the Covid-19 pandemic pushed tourism out of the sleepy surf town, one of Jorge’s main breadwinners – tourism – has disappeared.
Fortunately, bitcoin adoption is slowly increasing in Africa, from the Central African Republic across to Senegal and further north. Mozambique is also showing signs of warming up to the world’s most popular crypto.
Mozambique is a huge South African country struggling with poverty and corruption. With a GDP per capita of US$448, it is among the poorest countries in the world. According to the World Bank, the pandemic pushed GDP per capita below $500 in 2020.
Luckily for Jorge, one of the surf camp owners Jorge used to work with is a passionate bitcoiner who took him under his wing in 2021.
Herman Vivier, the founder of South Africa’s Bitcoin beach-inspired project Bitcoin Ekasi and crypto-friendly surf touring company Unravel Surf Travel, has helped Jorge protect his savings and diversify his income with BTC.
Jorge carries many jobs to earn a living, from surf assistant to arts and crafts seller to SIM card salesman. He told Cointelegraph that he now “accepts” bitcoin for the services he provides.
It also uses the Lightning Network to instantly exchange between South African and Mozambique currencies through the Bitrefill bitcoin application.
Jorge explains that “very few people here understand bitcoin”, he buys and sells phone credit on Bitefill (an app that sells gift cards that can be paid for with bitcoin on-chain or Lightning), and easily switches between ZAR (South African Rand). ) and MZN ( Mozambican Metical) currencies.
“It is the easiest way to exchange between ZAR and MZN. It’s instant and I’ve actually managed to get more clients this way.”
Despite being an impoverished nation, Statista reports that nearly half of Mozambique’s population has a phone subscription. In addition, Internet penetration in Mozambique is growing rapidly. More than 1.4 million people (+25%) went online between 2020 and 2021 as the internet now reaches more than a fifth of the population.
All you need to bank with Bitcoin is a phone and an internet connection. With levels of corruption and currency weakness exceedingly high, Mozambique is an unlikely potential hotbed for BTC adoption.
Still, education remains the biggest obstacle. Jorge admits: “In the beginning it was quite difficult to learn about Bitcoin!” Vivier helped him install the necessary applications on his phone and set up a wallet with Lightning Network (LN); They chose MuunWallet and he took the time to explain Satoshi Nakamoto’s innovation.
Here is Hermann’s tweet thread explaining how Jorge trades currencies with the LN:
Africa is ready for it #Bitcoin Adoption.
This is my friend (and former colleague) Jorge using it @bitrefill and @MuunWallet in Mozambique, where only about 30% of the population has formal bank accounts but 70% have mobile internet access. pic.twitter.com/egU5V0xR8k
— Vryfokkenou (@vryfokkenou) May 8, 2022
Thanks to Bitcoin, Jorge now avoids high transfer fees for border payments; Thanks to the Lightning network, he can switch between currencies instantly and has effectively opened his customer base to the whole world.
Related: Source Surprise: Central African Banks Scold CAR Over Bitcoin Adoption
Jorge wanted to express his gratitude to Vivier for the support and to commend the responses he has received from the Bitcoin community so far.
“I’m learning a lot and Bitcoin makes my life easier: it helps feed my family and four children.”
Of course Jorge’s children live near the world famous surf point break Tofinho and are surfers and the eldest is a surf instructor.
He concluded that overall, thanks to Bitcoin, “as coisas são bonitas”, meaning that thanks to Bitcoin “things are beautiful”.
https://cointelegraph.com/news/making-money-escaping-poverty-bitcoin-and-lightning-in-mozambique Bitcoin and Lightning in Mozambique