About a third of the customers queuing at La Maison du Bitcoin’s teller windows in Paris aren’t speculating on the value of the cryptocurrency. They’re sending digital money home to Africa.
“In many countries in Africa, there are far more cellphones than bank accounts,” said Manuel Valente, co-founder of La Maison. “For bitcoin, all you need is a phone.”
Zimbabwe, where the price of bitcoin spiked to double the international rate after this week’s military takeover, shows Jamie Dimon, Axel Weber and other cryptocurrency skeptics where the real-world use of bitcoin, and possibly its future, lies. It’s becoming the preferred way for residents of failing economies to transfer money without dealing with banks, protecting their savings from political turmoil, and avoiding the local currency when its value declines due to inflation.
There’s no data on how much digital money leaves industrialized nations for the developing world. Part of the…