SA traders starting to accept Bitcoin

Three South Africans currently accepting Bitcoin payments as part of their business have told HumanIPO more consumers and merchants should sign up and help revolutionise payment solutions.

HumanIPO reported on Monday South Africa was among five African countries which could be first to see the Bitcoin ATM be installed on the continent. The others are Ghana, Angola, Egypt and Libya.

Take-up of the digital currency, which is backed by no central bank and regulated by no government, has been slow in South Africa, but the signs of a Bitcoin ecosytem in the country are already appearing.

Francois Harris, of search engine optimisation specialists gotaclick.com, based in Newlands, Cape Town, said he began trading Bitcoin two years ago and immediately started accepting it as payment for his services.

He told HumanIPO: “I have made hundreds of Bitcoin transactions over the last two years, locally and internationally, and never once had a problem, it has simply worked flawlessly.

“I am very surprised more companies don’t accept bitcoin, it works incredibly well, much better than every other system I have used to take payments online. Everyone should be accepting Bitcoin as soon as possible.”

Bitcoin is not without its critics. Just within the last month, the digital currency has seen huge fluctuations in value.

But Harris said when they bill their clients in Bitcoins they simply use the current exchange rate. Once they have the coins they convert them to rands and as long as it is done quickly the price fluctuations are avoided.

He added: “If you hold on to Bitcoins then you could make a lot more money, or lose money, that is your risk.”

Gershon Davidse was part of the original technical support team at social network Mxit, but lost his job during the December retrenchments at the Stellenbosch-based company.

He has since founded digital agency Aphrodata.com and is accepting Bitcoin.

Davidse said: “We only started advertising we are accepting Bitcoin in the last two months.

“People could have actually scored a bit because we previously had an offer where we were advertising building mobi sites for two Bitcoins.

“The peaks and drops don’t really scare me because I am just really excited to see this thing grow.”

Although he is still waiting to receive his first payment in Bitcoin, Davidse said he receives a lot of phone calls from people interested in the concept and wanting to discuss it.

He also sees a lot of potential in the area of international trade and processing payments across borders, especially for the small, informal traders in South Africa.

Aphrodata is offering a service to traders where it will build a mobi site, set up a digital wallet (a place where someone can keep their Bitcoins) and give Bitcoin training to a trader or merchant.

Davidse added: “Bitcoin is actually perfect for Africa. The challenge is getting the concept out there.”

Rita Felgate, an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa and a former member of the Johannesburg Bar, trades as LegalB and began officially advertising that she accepted Bitcoin two weeks ago.

She is yet to receive her first payment in Bitcoin, but Felgate said she has had a lot of interest from clients, overseas especially.

Felgate said: “I think the local knowledge of Bitcoin will make it difficult to trade in South Africa. They are way ahead of us in the US and the UK in understanding Bitcoin.

“South Africa is in a peculiar position where the penetration of cell phones is very high, but few people have access to credit cards. It [Bitcoin] could prove, like M-Pesa, to be hugely successful.”

Posted in: Internet

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