Look at any ranking of Bitcoin adoption by nation globally, and you’ll see Nigeria pop up, often at or near the top.
The country has a very high rate of cryptocurrency involvement by citizens, and a new piece by Sandali Handagama goes into some of the reasons for that.
In a longform piece that talks about the frustrations and trials of young Nigerians in a country roiled by aggressive regulation, Handagama notes that the nation’s special anti-robbery squad or SARS, which was supposed to be disbanded in 2017, is still detaining and harassing Nigerians, which causes them to look for new ways to protect their assets.
One piece of evidence in the story is a young Nigerian’s tweet:
“On October 2019, I got kidnapped by SARS, I was less than 2 mins from my home, they refused to listen to anything I said and took me from Lekki, to Ajah then all the way to Ikoyi, whilst stopping and harassing other young adults, I’m not sure how many cars they stopped and robbed.”
The stories in Handagama’s article bring to mind Stalin-era Russians hiding foreign currency in toilet tanks. Now, though, digital assets offer much more powerful ways to shield assets from government overreach. Although government surveillance has evolved in significant ways, the nature of a decentralized asset like Bitcoin is a powerful tool for privacy-minded investors.
In going over this controversy, Handagama points to a global adoption index that shows how popular cryptocurrency holdings are in Nigeria, but also points to an interesting trend related to the maturity and evolution of the Internet.
“An underlying reason why blockchain is gaining traction fast in Nigeria is because its young and tech-savvy population is showing an eagerness to learn more about Web3.0, a decentralized internet powered by blockchain technology,” Handagama writes.
The decentralized Internet is something that digital activists have been talking about for a long time. So is decentralized finance or “defi” – look for a kind of financial arms race between defi and traditional finance stakeholders in the years to come.Nigeria is and will be a prime example.