The explosion of digital innovation is neither a new concept nor a surprising one. Today, the internet is creating ample opportunities to advertise, and more importantly, to spend – and everyone knows that this has changed how businesses operate, governments function, and how consumers behave. The acceleration or e-Commerce has further enabled the domino effect that has seen a networked world in which we communicate, shop, learn and importantly, invest.
So how has e-Commerce done this? Well, expansion leads to extension. A good place to start is by looking at the statistics. Datareportal’s annual digital insight reports that 62% of South Africa’s population of 58.93 million people are active internet users.
This statistic speaks to how South Africans adopt digital innovations. Whilst consumers may adopt technology at different paces, statistics show that internet users have been quick to adopt TV content streaming services at 75%. This isn’t all too surprising though, what with Showmax’s gripping original African content, and Netflix’s binge worthy reality love shows. What is surprising and indicative of the domino effect of quick adoption of digital and e-Commerce growth, is the fact that more than 13% of all internet users in South Africa own some form of cryptocurrency. That’s right. More than 4.5 million South Africans. Unsurprisingly, Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency used in South Africa. In fact, we have one of the highest levels of ownership in the world.
Cryptocurrency in South Africa
South African cryptocurrency usage tops various global lists. Many experts have argued that this is due to high levels of inflation and poverty, pushing towards cryptocurrency ownership.
Statista held a poll in 2019 which indicated that people in economically troubled countries tended to turn to decentralised digital money far more readily than those in wealthier nations.
To conduct this poll, Statistica surveyed 400, 000 people from 46 countries, and South Africa came out in the fifth spot, as 16% of the people surveyed, said that they used or owned cryptocurrencies.
A Country of Contradictions
South Africa is without a doubt a country of contradictions. For many years after the end of Apartheid in 1994, the country began turning heads globally, as its economy began to steadily grow. In 2017, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report said that the South African economy had achieved enormous social progress. It referred to a nation that had given millions of people access to vital public services, including education, health, and housing.
However, the economy is now on a downturn, as the Gross Domestic Product slows and investment shrinks, according to Bloomberg. The harsh reality is that there are about 30 million South Africans living in poverty.
But with cryptocurrency users firmly on the rise, in a country where Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni has established a cryptocurrency regulatory working group, and given the rise of mobile phone purchases, South Africa still represents a major opportunity for blockchain companies and cryptocurrency investment.
Begin with Bitcoin
Bitcoin continues to increase in popularity in South Africa and other frontier markets where it is viewed as a haven from political and economic turmoil. More and more, it is also becoming a means of navigating financial challenges, like a lack of conventional banking services or limited access to foreign currencies.
While many parts of the developed world are preoccupied on speculative activity in the crypto-economy, people in South Africa are teaching us about the true use cases of Bitcoin and the opportunity it presents for greater financial inclusion of the under-banked. Bitcoin provides a new way of financial upliftment, with low-cost, fast and convenient access to the global financial system.
It almost goes without saying that the current impact of the digital age has changed the way sectors not only communicate, but how they fundamentally operate. It has created metrics by which advertising, and marketing campaigns can be measured in real-time, and an investment network which forms part of a global marketplace. Statistics show that more and more South Africans are joining the global bitcoin village to satisfy both their finance needs and entrepreneurial ventures.
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