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Monday, June 17, 2013

Could Bitcoin become the official currency of Kenya, where mobile-phone payments are entrenched?  

Salon has an interesting piece today wondering whether Kenya - which has a robust mobile-telephone-currency-exchange system - might be ripe for adopting Bitcoin as its official currency. It seems pretty unlikely, but it makes for an intriguing thought experiment. It's a very short piece, but with lots of links if you're in the mood for more.

Since 2007, the telecom provider Safaricom has run a mobile payment service called M-Pesa (the “M” stands for “mobile” and “pesa” is Swahili for “money”), which allows Kenyans to transfer funds and pay bills using only their cellphones. Recently, M-Pesa has gained widespread adoption—more than 30 percent of the country’s GDP now moves through the service. In turn, stores and restaurants have adapted to allow customers to pay with their M-Pesa accounts. The result is a country ideally suited for Bitcoin.