South African bit-coin exchange, ICE3X, has launched bit-coin trading in Nigeria for the first time, opening up a potentially huge market for bit-coin in Africa’s most populous country.
The company has formed an exclusive partnership with Nigerian payment processor VoguePay, allowing users to buy and sell bit-coins using the local currency, the naira, directly from existing VoguePay wallets.
ICE3X is also planning to roll out merchant services allowing local businesses to accept bit-coin.
Speaking to CoinDesk, ICE3X (pronounced ‘ice-cubed X’) founder Gareth Grobler described Nigeria as “virgin territory” for bit-coin, with only a small number of traders and hobbyists involved so far.
“The market, however, is potentially massive. Nigerian online consumers simply do not have the same access to goods and services from international vendors due to one simple thing – credit card fraud. Bit-coin solves that problem.”
By building a more advanced on-line payment system in Africa, a VoguePay spokesperson said, the company will pave the way for young African entrepreneurs to foster better business relationships, making the online markets more accessible to millions of Africans.
VoguePay’s executive and research teams are based in Canary Wharf, London, while its development, operations and professional services groups are located in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos.
Nigeria has over 177 million people, 33.6 million of whom are in the 18–35 age bracket, making it home to one of the largest youth populations in the world. Depending on the statistical methods used, it is also considered Africa’s largest economy.
According to the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), in June 2013, the country had 48.1 million active Internet subscriptions through mobile phone networks, yet ICE3X says this space has been largely ignored by the digital currency advocates.
Setting up a bit-coin exchange may have been the easy part, though – Nigeria may have other hurdles to overcome if it is to participate in the global bit-coin economy.
It is the country that gave name to, and is synonymous with, the notorious ‘419 scam’ phenomenon, which should be familiar to anyone who has ever used email.
Additional security measures enabled by bitcoin, such as multisig wallets and escrow accounts, could help overseas customers transact with legitimate Nigerian businesses with greater peace of mind.
That’s exactly the problem bit-coin solves, Grobler said.
“The idea is that, for example, a farmer in Nigeria can buy a tractor from a supplier in the USA, and both parties could benefit from the near instant, secure and transparent funding solutions underpinned by the bit-coin technology.”
Building a solid customer base in Nigeria aligns with ICE3X’s longer-term product development strategy to have a robust, well tested infrastructure from which to launch its solutions”, Grobler said.(Source: CoinDesk)