South Africa, Ghana, Angola, Egypt and Libya could be the first African countries to install Bitcoin ATMs in a move which has the potential to revolutionise currency trading on the continent.
In an exclusive interview with HumanIPO, Jeff Berwick, chief executive officer (CEO) of Bitcoin ATM, said since they revealed the concept and opened for declarations of interest they have been approached by more than 200 companies in 30 countries, including the five in Africa.
Bitcoin is a digital currency which is not regulated by any government or backed by any central bank. It is a ‘currency without borders’.
Although Berwick describes Africa’s current Bitcoin participation as “almost completely barren” compared to Europe and the United States, he believes there is huge potential for it to spread on the continent.
Berwick told HumanIPO: “It is sad, at this time, because of all people who could make the best use of Bitcoin it is Africans who have been some of the most repressed by totalitarian and, even worse, democratical regimes, who have limited them so much.
“However, we believe Bitcoin will be a revolution in currency and value transfer and hope that more Africans realise this is something that will set them more free from their governments.”
Regarding African economies’ suitability for Bitcoin expansion, considering there are large unbanked proportions of the population, Berwick added: “I actually think it could be a major advantage as long as the information and knowledge about Bitcoin is communicated amongst the people.
“Our biggest hinderance to a global rollout is in places like the US and Europe where heinous governmental regimes control everything.”
The Bitcoin ATM will allow people to deposit their locally mandated currency into the machine and have it converted into Bitcoins to put into their digital wallet.
Users will also be able to withdraw hard currency by cashing in their Bitcoins at the machine.
Their first product will be installed in Los Angeles by the end of the month, before moving to cash-strapped Cyprus – the European country thought to be responsible for the huge surge in Bitcoin value earlier this month.
He added: “We are moving forward as fast as possible. Demand has been large so we are trying to keep up with it… [After Los Angeles] we will then move on to Cyprus and then on to the over 200 other places that we have orders from.”
Berwick describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist and libertarian, who is editor in chief of The Dollar Vigilante. He also founded Stockhouse.com, Canada’s largest financial website, in 1994.
Describing his reason for getting involved with Bitcoin, Berwick told HumanIPO: “First, I am a big believer in individual freedom (and by proxy, anything against government) and this was the first example in modern times of the free market coming up with its own decentralised, non-regulatable currency.
“Secondly, at The Dollar Vigilante I have been writing for three years about The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI) and why the collapse of all fiat currencies is coming (hint: government debt and central bank money printing).”
He went on to compare the arrival of Bitcoin to the internet revolution. He added: “I am seeing all the same things with Bitcoin as an evolution in currency whereas the internet was an evolution in communications.
“It is our intention to make Bitcoin more accessible to the public and free them from the restraints and incursions of the central bank controlled fiat currencies.”