By Emma Okonji
Cryptocurrency, which is a digital currency that uses cryptography to validate and secure transactions, is one of the surest ways to enhance trade and commerce in Nigeria and beyond, some experts have said.
The stated this during a cryptocurrency forum organised by Luno in Lagos recently.
Highlighting the global characteristics of cryptocurrency as decentralised, universal, interoperable, faster and safer, controllable with equal access and optionally transparent, the experts were of the view that trading with cryptocurrency would enhance commerce and economic growth.
In his presentation on “Building Trust in the Nigerian Cryptocurrency Market,” the Chief Operating Officer, Blockchain Solutions Limited, Mr. Lucky Uwakwe, said there is a rise in the global demand for cryptocurrency, with 65 per cent familiar with cryptocurrency, and 25 per cent owning a cryptocurrency, while 29 per cent own Bitcoin and Ethereum.
According to Uwakwe, 51 per cent view cryptocurrency as an investment, while 19 per cent use it for remittance, and 16 per cent use it for online shopping and 11 per cent also use it for transfer to family and friends.
Citing Google trends on Bitcoin, which is one of the many types of digital currencies, Uwakwe said the interest in Bitcoin (BTC), which is driven by Luno in Nigeria, was beginning to gain more acceptance among Nigerians.
According to Google trends, after an important recovery from a sharp fall in prices, public interest in Bitcoin rose dramatically to a 4-month high. Google trends stated that the highest level of interest for this period was recorded penultimate week, and since then, the trend has remained above normal levels. Google trend data further reveals that the most searches for Bitcoin in the world over the past week came from Nigeria, South Africa and Austria.
Speaking on the importance of Bitcoin, Uwakwe said: “Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency to use peer to peer technology; It is a simpler implementation of blockchain technology; Functions as a payment tool that can be used to send money, and carries value as an investment tool.”
At a panel session coordinated by Cryptocurrency Specialist, Frank Eleanya, issues on the gains and risk of cryptocurrency were discussed.
A cryptocurrency investor, Olaleye Awe, spoke of the risk factor and advised Nigerians not to invest more than what they can afford to lose, saying Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency are volatile.
He, however, encouraged Nigerians to invest in Bitcoin, despite market fluctuations. He equally advised that people should trade more in Bitcoin, when prices are low.
County Manager, Luno, Owenize Odia, said Luno was launched in 2013 as a global platform to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum, with a vision to upgrade the world into a better financial system.
Addressing the issue of cryptocurrency regulation, Odia said: “Regulation is key but should be county specific, since it can bring about credibility to market, even though banks try to distant their operations from cryptocurrency.”