Tim Akinbo: Bitcoin is a Store of Value for the African People


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My guest in this episode is Tim Akinbo. He comes from Nigeria and is involved in the Bitcoin space since 2014. I got to know Tim when I asked for bitcoin donations for a school in Harare, Zimbabwe. He contacted me on Twitter and offered to setup a BTCpayserver so that we can receive lightning payments, too. That was of great help. I looked him up and realized that Tim is also a Bitcoin Core contributor, Software developer and has a lot of experience with e-commerce and international payments.

“I think from an individual perspective, Bitcoin will make it possible for people to really, really save, on the African continent.” – Tim Akinbo

“I really have not been able to figure out, if any other Altcoin really has any use case, besides probably providing some avenue for a speculation, but in terms of real world use cases, I don’t think that any of the so-called limitations of Bitcoin are strong enough to actually kind of overcome it’s network effects and liquidity.” – Tim Akinbo

Our topics:

  • How he learned about Bitcoin
  • His contribution to Bitcoin Core
  • The use-cases for Bitcoin in Nigeria and Ghana
  • Methods of payments in Nigeria
  • How Bitcoin is traded in Africa
  • Why the trading volume in Africa increased during the Corona pandemic
  • His perspective on zimbo.cash
  • Use-cases for Altcoins
  • The deprecation of the Naira and other African currencies
  • Bitcoin as a store of value for African people
  • His new project to make full nodes in Africa visible

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Recording Date: June 12, 2020
Location: Online

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Transcript

Anita Posch [00:03:38] Hello to this new episode. My guest today is Tim Akinbo. I got to know Tim. When I asked for a Bitcoin donations for a school in Harare, Zimbabwe, he contacted me on Twitter and offered to set up a BTC Payserver so that we could do lightning payments as well. That was a great help. And afterwards I realized that Tim is also a Bitcoin Core contributor, and I thought he's a great guest for the show.
And that's why he's here today. Hello, Tim.

Tim Akinbo [00:04:07] Hi, Anita. Great to be on your podcasts.

Anita Posch [00:04:11] Thanks for doing this interview with me

Tim Akinbo [00:04:13] It's my pleasure.

Anita Posch [00:04:14] When I was preparing for our talk, I listened to two interviews that you did recently. And I also realized that we have a little bit of a common history because you were working or I was working in e-commerce.

Tim Akinbo [00:04:28] Okay. Okay.

Anita Posch [00:04:29] Yeah. So please tell us your story. What did you do before you found Bitcoin?
And what are you doing now?

Tim Akinbo [00:04:37] So I'm still doing what I used to do before Bitcoin. I'm actually a software engineer and, I've been doing that prior to Bitcoin and I still continue to do that. I'm more technically focused and it also lends to my contributions in the space, both as a contributor to Bitcoin core. And there are also a couple of other projects in the space as well that I spent some time on as well.

Anita Posch [00:05:03] Why did you contribute to Bitcoin core?

Tim Akinbo [00:05:06] What led to my contribution to Bitcoin core, was actually a problem that I had when I was trying to make a local copy of the blockchain for a colleague. So you do know the problems with running a Bitcoin full node. One of them actually includes a very large data set that you have to download. So a colleague of mine who wanted to run a full node you know, basically I offered to make a copy from my own local bitcoin full node and give him the data. So there are a couple of tools that are included with the Bitcoin Core, source code that allow you to be able to do something like that. And while I was using this tool, I, I came across a problem.
And the very first time I thought maybe it was some issue that had to do with my own particular copy of the blockchain. So I kind of ignored it, but, on several other attempts, trying to do the same thing I realized that, okay, maybe this isn't really a problem with, you know, my own copy of the blockchain.
Maybe I should take a look at the tool and figure out what it's doing and see whether it's a bug that I could fix. And so what led to that was that I started going through the source code and then I kind of identified the problem and realized that, Oh, actually it's a, it's a bug that needed to be fixed.
So I went around, I went to the Bitcoin source code, just trying to figure out whether someone else had identified the problem. And maybe there was some kind of contribution that hadn't been merged or something. And I noticed that someone actually had a related problem , which wasn't exactly the problem that I had.
So I spent some time actually working on it and I was able to patch the particular tool. And, after I got into work, you know, I, I, I then submitted a patch to the Bitcoin core repository and, I was actually very fortunate to have, you know, people actually review it. Some of the core contributors actually also could review the source code and helped with, you know, all the ways through which I could actually improve it.
I was able to make those improvements. And I was glad when, you know, I actually looked at, the latest release 0.20.0 of Bitcoin core and it's actually a part of that particular code now. So yeah, that's how I actually go to make the contribution to Bitcoin core.

Anita Posch [00:07:40] Yeah, super because I saw your name in the release notes, the contributers. It proves that actually everybody can contribute to Bitcoin Core.

Tim Akinbo [00:07:50] That's correct.

Anita Posch [00:07:50] Yeah. It's it shows this inclusiveness. Yeah, but let's get a little bit back, to your story. When did you find out about Bitcoin and how did you get into it?

Tim Akinbo [00:08:03] So my story of Bitcoin actually started way back in 2011. I happen to stumble on a particular article about Bitcoin on a blog called Slashdot and it piqued my interest. Because you know, apparently this time I was fully aware of a number of payment solutions online and had used a couple of them as well.
I remember E-Gold being a very popular one that I used back then. And obviously E-Gold had its own problems and unfortunately it had to be shut down. And so when I heard about Bitcoin, one of the things that really piqued my interest was the fact that it was decentralized and obviously trying to study and figure out, you know, what does decentralization mean?
Then we really started getting even more intriguing. So, but then, you know, I didn't really pay too much attention to it. I think when I really started taking Bitcoin seriously was around 2014. That was kind of around the time when I started to understand a little bit more about the economics behind Bitcoin.
That was when I actually started studying things like proof of work. Why does Bitcoin work? And, you know, when it kind of clicked, it was, that was pretty much the moment when I started down the rabbit hole of Bitcoiners, you know, we would say.

Anita Posch [00:09:35] Yeah. And did you use E-Gold for international payments or what was the use case you were looking for?

Tim Akinbo [00:09:44] So this was, I think this was around the year 2000, probably much later, maybe around 2004. I think, that was when I, I was still, I was in college back then. I had taught myself how to, develop web programs, web applications. And so I started to earn a little income writing scripts for, people who wanted to do some kind of automation, in a web application.
Because I was doing some work for, you know, people in different countries. You know, most of them, I didn't know where they were. E-Gold was just kind of like the natural way to receive payments. Prior to this time, you know, there wasn't anything like PayPal in Nigeria, even right now, it's still very difficult for, in Nigeria to actually accept payments online.
Even though we do have access to PayPal right now, you can only as a Nigerian I can only pay with PayPal. I can't receive money with PayPal. And so E-Gold was the solution to receive payments back at the time when I started doing this work and seeing what happened to E-Gold Bitcoin actually kind of sounded more interesting in the sense that okay, if this works the way it's been described, I think this is really going to be a big game changer.
And I think since then, I have only seen that this has actually kind of fulfilled that prophecy of really changing the world. And I think Bitcoin has changed the world in so many ways that, you know, I think in generations to come, we would look at the way things were done. And we wonder how did we ever live in the world where this wasn't, how things were done?
You know?

Anita Posch [00:11:32] Yeah, I think so, too. So. Is it possible to use credit cards in Nigeria or to buy something online?

Tim Akinbo [00:11:41] Yes, we do have credit cards in Nigeria. They actually call debit cards because most banks don't actually give credit. So you can only spend funds that you have actually loaded, in your bank account or on debit card, but as at the time when I was using E Gold, we didn't have credit cards, then we didn't have Visa. We didn't have MasterCard, but I think things have really improved since then. I think to a large extent when it comes to e-commerce online, Nigerians can actually participate. We can use PayPal, we can pay with all credit cards online and, it works most of the time.

Anita Posch [00:12:18] But for remittances or being paid from abroad, it's not usable. What do you use then instead of bitcoin or is bitcoin the best way?

Tim Akinbo [00:12:28] There are quite a number of companies of recent that actually allow merchants to accept payments from customers abroad. But it's still not very accessible. There are still lots of things that you have to fulfill as a customer setting kinds of thing. Like for example, you have to actually have a registered business before you can do that.
individuals mostly don't have that ability. So Bitcoin actually still ends up being like the most efficient, most accessible way to receive remittances who receive payments online in places like Nigeria.

Anita Posch [00:13:08] I mean, since you're into Bitcoin since 2014, that's six years now, what has changed around you, in your area, in Nigeria are there many more people now using Bitcoin? Are they interested in it? I mean, I've seen in Zimbabwe there are a lot of scams and it's difficult also to use Bitcoin in Zimbabwe.
I mean, it works, but also from the internet connection, you know, I mean, downloading a blockchain is almost impossible. And also on your phone having a Bitcoin wallet, you can't download it because you have all those, packages on your smartphone, these internet bundles, is this, the same? Can we compare that to Nigeria or is this different.

Tim Akinbo [00:13:56] I think there are some things that are similar and lots of things that are actually different. So to speak to the question about what has changed since 2014, quite a lot, actually. I remember back in 2014, actually, there was a, an event that I went to speak at and I was talking about Bitcoin and, you know, then a lot of people were just hearing about Bitcoin for the very first time.
And ever since I have kind of like watched in awe to see how Bitcoin has actually taken off, you know, like a rocket. I think this really happened around 2016, slash 2017. This was, I think 2016, we got similar to Zimbabwe there were quite a number of Ponzi schemes that were quite popular around that time.
And these were international in nature. They weren't local, so you'll start to see this local demand for Bitcoin, because then you have lots of people who, the only way they could participate in these schemes were, was actually to like get Bitcoin. And so there was actually this Renaissance, I would call it about Bitcoin, where people were kind of like look into find out what is this Bitcoin, you know, what is it all about? I hear I can make, you know, three times what I invest. And so there was this really, really huge explosion in both awareness and demand for Bitcoin. But shortly after the scams, you know, went belly up and I was kind of surprised with the reaction.
I assumed that a lot of people were going to you know, completely dismiss Bitcoin as being a scam or being a Ponzi scheme. But, and I think there were actually a number of people who actually thought that way, but, ultimately lots of people actually kind of were able to make that distinction between Bitcoin and the Ponzi schemes.
And so while the Ponzi schemes actually kind of like died along the way, Bitcoin actually just kept growing and ever since then, we've seen, you know, very, very huge use cases for Bitcoin locally within the country. And even in terms of liquidity and volume, you know, it has significantly improved.
I mean, you have people who don't even understand, you know, the difference between HTTP and HTTPS using Bitcoin on a daily basis. And it only kind of just really buttresses the point that, you know, Bitcoin is going to be used by all kinds of people. And it's not going to be only the tech savvy who uses it.
But, you know, once there, it really solves a problem. You know, people will find a way to use it. And so, you know, in terms of, you know, the technology, the accessibility of Bitcoin, unlike, you know, what's the case, in your previous interviews with, some of your colleagues in Zimbabwe, the data bundle situation or the accessibility to internet accessibility in Nigeria is quite different.
I would say the internet access is actually quite ubiquitous. It is actually quite affordable actually to subscribe to data bundles. It's still kind of on the expensive side, if you're going to do, something like, you know, run a full node at home, but for people who run light clients, who want to be able to download a wallet, I think they're actually quite affordable plans that nearly anyone can actually afford to, acquire and, you know, get a. mobile wallet and use Bitcoin. Blockchain.info, for example is like the number one wallet in Nigeria. Most of the people who transact with Bitcoin, you know, use blockchain.info as their primary wallet. It has a web wallet, but most of them actually use the mobile app

Anita Posch [00:18:05] Which is not that good because I heard it's not that secure.

Tim Akinbo [00:18:09] Yeah. I mean, there's been quite a number of cases involving, you know, people's wallets actually been hacked. I think really it's, it's really stems from the fact that it's an online wallet, you know, to be accurate, the fact that most of them still don't use two factor authentication for access to their wallets you do hear these stories every once in a while.

Anita Posch [00:18:33] And do people use non-custodial wallets?

Tim Akinbo [00:18:37] yes, to a large extent. So a number of people who, you know, don't want to, as we say, you know, not your keys, not your coins. I don't think that is the reality for a lot of people. Yeah. I think it's going to take quite a number of it. you know, Yeah, an effort to actually to educate people about the reasons why you really should try to control your keys.
But the reality is that most people here still kind of prefer to use exchanges and custodial wallets. You know, something that they can just use a regular email address and a password to access. But I think that that is gradually changing. I think, you know, once you have a number of these cases where people have a bad experience. I think it will become more common place for them to actually switch to using custodial. Sorry. Non-custodial wallets rather than custodial ones.

Anita Posch [00:19:30] Yeah. And are there Bitcoin communities in Nigeria, like, people who come together and educate each other on Bitcoin? Or how do people get to know more about Bitcoin in Nigeria?

Tim Akinbo [00:19:43] Yeah, there are lots of communities. I think that's been one of the primary ways through which people have actually gotten, you know, Bitcoin education. Most of them are on you know, web platforms, most of them would have existed in WhatsApp groups, where people can join and learn more about Bitcoin or events that actually take place in real life.
I think that's primarily the way through which most people actually get to learn about Bitcoin.

Anita Posch [00:20:12] In Zimbabwe I had the impression that this is really peer to peer exchange, as it was meant to be in a way, you know, so people get together in telegram groups or WhatsApp groups or meet in real life and then exchange U S dollar for a Bitcoin. And that works quite well.

Tim Akinbo [00:20:32] Yes. Yes. It's it's the same in, in Nigeria. In fact, I think most African countries are I'm also a bit familiar with what's happening in Ghana as well. And I know that the vast majority of transactions actually are call peer to peer. So for a lot of people, the WhatsApp groups are just avenues through which they coordinate, you know, and basically how they get to discover who has what the other needs.
So, they're kind of like you know, open bids where, you know, someone is able to say, okay, I have Bitcoin, I'm looking to sell. Or someone says, I'm looking for Bitcoin. If anyone has to sell, I'm interested in buying. And then most of the time, in some of the groups, where they're trusted, you know, relationships, the groups are just effectively ways for them to like, make an advertisement about availability or the need for Bitcoin. And then the transactions are usually done peer to peer. In some of the groups where you have people who don't necessarily trust each other, there will be what we call escrow agents, but they call them admins in this groups. And what their role or their function is, is to serve as intermediaries to, and it really has to do with trust, but what they do actually is just to intermediate between the two parties who want to transact and, kind of like service and escrow. So, maybe the escrow is in terms of Fiat so funds could be sent to the mobile money account of the admin or the bank account of the admin.
And, once the admin tells the seller that funds have been received, then the seller can then send Bitcoin directly to the buyer and then funds get released from the admins accounts to the seller. So that's generally how those P2P transactions are carried out.

Anita Posch [00:22:29] That's very interesting. So, I mean, I'm sure, you know hodlhodl.com, which is actually an online platform with, also escrow, but like programmed escrow. Yeah. But, I think it's still more trusting if you're completely new if you have a person you get to know and you know, he or she is the admin or the escrow holder, maybe I guess.
Yeah. But, what I also saw is that, there's this website called useful tulips, with the statistics of trading on Paxful and localbitcoins.com platforms that in the last month, the trading volume has risen a lot in, in, Subsaharan Africa. Have you, seen that too? That there are now more people interested in Bitcoin since, the Corona virus hit us.

Tim Akinbo [00:23:22] Yes. So a lot of the Bitcoin traders in Nigeria, I would say maybe mostly in sub Saharan Africa who are, on this platforms most of what they do is it's actually a source of income for them. So. They get to buy Bitcoin or sell Bitcoin and they make a spread on the transaction itself.
And so it has become an alternative source of income for quite a number of people. And obviously, when you consider the fact that the coronavirus has basically led to lockdowns in lots of countries around the world, including Subsaharan Africa. it's only sensible that, a lot of people have thought, okay, maybe this could be an alternative for me to make income without necessarily having to leave the comfort of my home.
And I guess that could actually be one of the reasons why we have seen this significant uptake in treating volumes on this platform.

Anita Posch [00:24:22] Interesting, but then you also need more buyers and sellers correct?

Tim Akinbo [00:24:27] Correct. yeah, so I think it also kind of leads to, you know, more awareness. So on the demand side, obviously that could be the explanation for why that is, but on the supply side as well. You think about the fact that people who want to send money home, before they would have had to walk to an agent, maybe Western union or something like that, or maybe even potentially a walk up to a store or something.
but as a result of the coronavirus and the lockdowns a lot of them who want to send money, you have to do that electronically. And I think most people are beginning to discover that Bitcoin is a very, very efficient way to send money electronically between, you know, different countries.
So on the supply side, you have these people who, kind of discovering that, you know, I could use Bitcoin actually rather than using Western union. So I think it works both ways, to influence both the supply and the demand and could actually explain the reason why we're having this increase in volume.

Anita Posch [00:25:33] how is the Nigerian currency? I think it's called Naira. has it lost value? Is it, I mean, I think Nigeria. I think you can't compare any nation in Africa with Zimbabwe the situation there, but how is it in Nigeria? I have no idea about Nigeria.

Tim Akinbo [00:25:53] I would say that the currency is actually being devalued against the dollar. And as a result, I think a lot of people are actually beginning, especially those who sometimes are involved with international trade you know, whether it's that okay. Sometimes you need to make some payments online or, you know, they're involved in, you know, receiving or sending money abroad.
and I think even for a lot of people who are kind of waking up to the fact that, you know, the naira is actually been gradually being devalued, and a lot of people are now looking for ways to kind of like hedge against that currency devaluation. And a lot of people are now beginning to look towards Bitcoin and all the alternatives, like stable coins as a way to hedge against that devaluation.
So. Inflation obviously is one thing, but devaluation is actually another thing. I mean, for example, just, you know, within the last two or three months, we had this significant situation with, the oil price. Now Nigeria makes most of his, income through the sale of oil. And so whenever something impacts the price of oil in the international market, it has a direct impact on the currency itself.
And just within, within the last three months, we've seen the Naira actually get devalued by almost 20%. Probably even more and as a result, you know, a lot of people are now beginning to see how fragile, the currency itself is, against, you know, even things that may not naturally be things that happen within the country itself.
So in order to hedge against that currency devaluation, even on things like, you know, on short term basis, a lot of people are turned into Bitcoin and all the alternatives, as a way to kind of like hedge against that devaluation. So that's actually one reason. I think one of the major reason could also be a capital controls. It's only natural that, you know, when the Naira is actually been devalued obviously the central bank is going to try to defend the currency. And so one way that the central bank, the kind of policies that the central bank has, kind of enacted to stem that devaluation is to restrict the sale of a foreign exchange or US dollars to certain kinds of industries.
So maybe it is importers who import textile materials. The central bank has imposed setting kinds of restrictions on the sale of U S dollars to those industries. And in order for those entrepreneurs to be able to carry out their business, they have to source for US dollars elsewhere. Now one way could be that they go to the parallel market, another alternative actually, and which has actually become quite popular amongst some importers is to use Bitcoin.
So for those kinds of importers who have vendors who, you know, are willing to accept Bitcoin as payment for those imports, this importers are actually sourcing for Bitcoin from local markets to make those payments. So we see that these are actually some of the other use cases that has actually led to the increased local demand for Bitcoin and also ultimately to use as well.

Anita Posch [00:29:18] That's very interesting because I think many people still think Bitcoin is not used. And, as I can see in all my interviews around the world, especially in Africa, I see many, many use cases and, many things that really help people too. You mentioned to central bank, there's a question I have about that.
Have they said anything about Bitcoin? Do they regulate it in any way, or what do you think is the central bank in Nigeria going to do.

Tim Akinbo [00:29:51] I think they have actually put out a number of statements regarding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And I think, the policy of the central bank has been more of a wait and see approach. They've decided to take the approach they've decided for now not to regulate Bitcoin. I think it's mostly from a, you know, let's, like I said, let's wait and see exactly where this is going.
I think most of their statements has been mostly from the perspective of just warning the general public that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender, obviously and that they are not an accepted means of payment in the economy. So, anyone who is actually involved in speculation or, you know, the use of cryptocurrencies, they should understand that, you know, they're not going to be afforded the same kinds of protections as they would have had if they were using obviously the Naira. So you know, no buyer protection, if you're using cryptocurrencies and, you know, in a situation where there is a problem with the cryptocurrency, there'll be no such thing as a bailout or, you know, like there'll be no deposit insurance. So I think it's mostly more of a, from a perspective of look, as much as we would like to be able to provide necessary protections, cryptocurrencies are just things that are not within, purview and they are not things that we can actually control. And as, and as a result, we just want to ensure that we have put out all the necessary warnings, to discourage people from, you know, taking necessary risks with cryptocurrencies.
And I think, that, you know, most other African central banks have also had similar approaches and in response to cryptocurrencies, I'm only hopeful that, you know, they would actually learn more about it and be more accommodating obviously I don't think that any central bank will be able to regulate Bitcoin.
It's not just something that they can't control, but you know, there are, they could regulate companies and I think, you know, with things like, KYC, policies for exchanges on, on all the Bitcoin related businesses, I think that is really the only way that they can actually kind of like have any form of regulation.
And I think that has been the same approach that most other central banks in Africa have, have taken.

Anita Posch [00:32:21] Yes. As far as I know, this is in Germany and Austria about the same, so they are watching it, but, the Austrian central bank is saying Bitcoin is such a small scene at the moment. So we'll see, you know, we'll see what happens. Yeah. But I mean, I think basically their business model, if we can say so is running away because, if they won't buy Bitcoin themselves to have an amount of Bitcoin to regulate any kind of economy, as they say they do, then they won't be able to do anything in the Bitcoin space. So, yeah, I think it will be a parallel system for a longer period.

Tim Akinbo [00:33:06] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, personally, you know, thinking about, central banks in Africa, I remember putting out a tweet one time like that when, especially when the price of oil was actually kind of like tanking, I thought. You know, for an oil producer like Nigeria, is there any reason why we aren't mining Bitcoin?
You know, I would like a situation where some central banks might actually think about adding Bitcoin as one of the assets to their reserves. I mean, if we're looking at the futuristic assets that could one day actually be worth quite a lot of money I only think it to be strategic, you know, for these central banks to actually consider adding some Bitcoin to their portfolio of assets.
Not just gold, not just US dollars, but also having, you know, something that could one day become a reserve asset of sorts.

Anita Posch [00:34:02] Now you were speaking about resources in Nigeria. I mean, there's also a lot of sun. How popular is solar energy? And could you mine there?

Tim Akinbo [00:34:12] I think there are more problems to mining than just, solar. So power supply actually is very erratic in Nigeria. And it's one of the reasons why it's actually very difficult for, you know, individuals actually to mine, Bitcoin. I think it might actually be a consideration for, you know, someone who can set up a power plant a gas power plant, for example but when it comes to, you know, the use of solar power, it's, it's quite expensive. And so I think when you look at the return investment on how long it would take to recoup the investment itself I think it's mostly very, very cost prohibitive for most people who want to go into it. And I think that is the reason why there isn't much Bitcoin mining going on, in Nigeria.

Anita Posch [00:35:01] Yeah, I thought about a real mining farm a bigger investment because also here in Austria, people don't mine themselves anymore because it's too costly from the energy costs. Yeah. What I wanted to ask you also is you're into Bitcoin, you are a Bitcoiner I guess. Or do you also like other cryptocurrencies, do you see use cases for others?

Tim Akinbo [00:35:26] To be honest, you know, I, there was a time when I used to believe in the promise of Altcoins. I thought they provided, you know, alternative use cases, but the closer actually kind of like studied, Altcoins and tried to figure out, do they really have a use case? I I've kind of come to the conclusion that I don't think most Altcoins actually have any use case.
Bitcoin is software. It has the largest network effects it's the most liquid, I mean, if we're even to look at the alternative, which is stablecoins and the fact that, you know, some people actually would think that, oh, most Nigerians are not really interested in Bitcoin they just want access to the US dollar.
But the reality on the ground is that stable coins are not as popular. I mean for every one transaction, maybe involving stable coins, you have like a hundred for Bitcoin. So it's, it's really minuscule. And I really have not been able to figure out, you know, if any other Altcoin really has any use case, besides probably just providing some avenue for a speculation, but in terms of use cases like real world use cases, I don't think that any of the so-called limitations of Bitcoin are strong enough to actually kind of overcome it's network effects and liquidity. And so, you know, I, I just tend to just focus on Bitcoin.

Anita Posch [00:36:53] Yeah, me too. And I also went the same way, but what do you think about local currencies? Do you think that regional currencies, cryptocurrencies could be a way. I mean, I read yesterday about Zimbo.cash, which is a cryptocurrency only for Zimbabweans. It has been launched, I think, in the last weeks. And, it's built on Tron. And they don't have one founder. They are a group of people, but I don't really know what I should think about it. I mean, I could imagine that the central bank, if it gets too big, it will take them down. I don't know. What, what do you think about those projects?

Tim Akinbo [00:37:34] To be frank, I don't know why those projects exist, because I don't see any reason why anyone would use anything than the most widely accepted cryptocurrency. It's like, it's like say you want to use the U S dollar, right? Except maybe for national pride I, I really don't see the utility. And the reason is because Bitcoin is accessible.
There's no part of the globe that you go to, that you can't actually access Bitcoin. It's globally acceptable. I mean, the fact that it actually runs on the Tron network, for example, a question I've actually asked, you know, some people who have presented the project to me is why are they using Tron?
Like, you know, why, why use a different currency that runs on the Tron network and not Tron itself? So, I mean, in terms of, or maybe it's just an experiment, I still, again, you know, there are lots of avenues through which you can actually experiment. So in terms of should Africans use regional cryptocurrencies?
I don't see why that would ever be something you actually want to do. Bitcoin is sufficiently decentralized. There's no control. You can access it, you don't need any permission from anyone to use Bitcoin. So. The only argument that I see people say used against Bitcoin is, oh, it is slow.
It is this and I think that for most people, maybe it's just a fact of, they haven't actually discovered all the ways through which Bitcoin is finding its way to scale and provide the necessary throughput that would be able to take care of their use case. So, my own personal view is that it doesn't matter whether the Altcoin is coming from China or it's coming from Senegal, you know, an Altcoin is an Altcoin and most Altcoins don't have really any use case besides just providing an avenue for speculation like I mentioned earlier.

Anita Posch [00:39:38] Hmm. Yeah, maybe it's, you know, as you said, those national feelings, like our money, our economy stays in our country and maybe they think with Bitcoin, the money goes out from the country to the rich ones you know, the Westerners, I don't know.

Tim Akinbo [00:39:55] I think it's a, I think it's a misconception. I think, most people actually don't understand how money really works and I think that is really a result of, I guess, you know, wrong assumptions. Because when you think about it, when you're using a, let's say, you know, I come up with a cryptocurrency.
Well, how are people actually going to start using that cryptocurrency? Well, they have to buy it from me, right. Or they're going to mine the cryptocurrency. Well, you see, I've read, a very good book to read on this topic that can help shed more light about how money came to be, the monies that have worked in the past, have failed the reasons why they failed, would be the Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous and one of the examples he gives in the book is, what actually happened in West Africa, which was, you know, a region that was using glass beads as currency, at the time. And then you had, European explorers who came to Africa, West Africa specifically, and discovered that.
Oh, they use glass beads as money here. Now, obviously they had, you know, means of production and they had avenues through which they could actually produce those beads in very, very large quantities. And so, you know, since the Africans were not willing to trade, you know, with them and the things that they brought, the decided to go back to produce this glass beads in large quantities and came and, although it was initially rejected some people actually were willing to accept it, you know, by the side. And so that kind of really decimated the currency, which was used at that time. And that led to the demise of glass beads. I think the same thing could also apply to cryptocurrencies in Africa as well. Like, you know, like you gave the example and how would that happen?
Well, let's say it's a coin that uses proof of work, right? Like we mentioned, one of the reasons why a lot of mining doesn't happen in Africa is because, well, to be quite honest, we don't have the energy supply, like other parts of the world have. And so you have this threat where you could have. You know, maybe some entrepreneur in China who has access to very cheap electricity, you know, some of the Asics or even, you know, GPUs and could actually put that mining equipment to work in mining that cryptocurrency.
And then all of a sudden you now have this currency, now accruing very large amounts to, you know, whoever is doing this. And then we have a repeat of what happened, you know, with glass beads in West Africa. I don't necessarily think that that's the way to go. We should be using the hardest money that there is, and that money is Bitcoin.
And I don't see any reason why we shouldn't actually use the hardest money it's not about value actually accruing to someone else, but more about value accruing, you know, to the holder of the currency itself. It doesn't matter if you bought your Bitcoin at 20,000 or you bought it at 10,000, what matters is, is it a good store value?
And if it does that job well, then that is what you should use.

Anita Posch [00:43:13] Yeah. And it's also the only uncensorable open and neutral cryptocurrency here.
Yeah.
So you said before you have a great vision for the future of Bitcoin also in Africa, what do you see? What can Bitcoin do for African countries and African people?

Tim Akinbo [00:43:33] So Bitcoin at its very core is, is peer to peer. And so I think most of the time when you're thinking about the value that Bitcoin could accrue, it's going to be beneficial to the individual, not so much, you know, a nation state or a group or a community. I think one of the things that Bitcoin will do is allow Africans to be able to store, you know, excess economic output in an asset that would preserve it.
So besides the fact that Bitcoin is designed, you know, by its very nature, really, to pump forever, to borrow the words of Matt Odell, one of the things that actually it does very, very well is to preserve value. The reason why it's designed that way is because of its limited, is its limited quantity.
So when you think about it, you know, you see that for a lot of people, you know, I, I did a study and I found out that most African currencies would depreciate by 50%, every five years. So collectively, if you save money in the Naira for example, in five years, your money will only be able to buy half as much as it, as it will be able to buy today.
That's not really a good store value and so for people who have, you know, aspirations, I want to be able to buy a car in the future. So I want to save towards that purpose. Well, one way you could do that effectively is to use Bitcoin. Yes, it's volatile. You'll have the price actually go up and down, but over the long term, the fundamental value that it accrues is generally to be very good store of value.
So I think from an individual perspective, Bitcoin will make it possible for people to really, really save, on the African continent

Anita Posch [00:45:34] The loss of value of 50% in five years is huge. I mean, here it's like, I think one or 2% maybe. Yeah. yeah. So, we're coming to an end now. Do you have any recommendations for beginners for Bitcoin beginners how to educate themselves about Bitcoin books or websites, videos?

Tim Akinbo [00:45:58] Yeah, I think, there's a website called Bitcoin-resources.com. that's Bitcoin hyphened resources. I would say that that's will be my recommendation for anyone who is new to Bitcoin and wants to be able to go from beginner to experts and you know, there, there are resources there for all kinds of expertise so, you know, that would be my recommendation. I would like people to actually use that website in, in getting the education they need. Yes.

Anita Posch [00:46:30] Interesting. I didn't know this one. I mean, I know a lot of websites, but this one I didn't, great. Thank you. I will put that in the show notes. And please tell us, where can people follow you and your work? What are you working on at the moment?

Tim Akinbo [00:46:46] I have an ambitious project that I'm working on a number of the things that a number of the factors influencing, why you don't have a lot of full nodes actually in Africa, in my, in my experience, it turns out that it's not that you don't have people who are running full nodes, but I think just because of the way the networks are structured, I mean, for example, you don't get a publicly accessible IP address from most internet service providers.
And so. When you go to a website, like bitnodes.io to kind of like see where all the Bitcoin nodes are spread across the continent you'll see that very, very few number of them are actually in sub-saharan Africa with the exception of South Africa. And so I'm working on a project that would enable, Bitcoiners who are running full nodes, wherever it is, they are, you know, in Kenya, in Nigeria, in Ghana, to be able to have an address that, would enable the Bitcoin full nodes to be visible.
So, I started working on that actually just about a week ago and I actually hope to kind of make a lot of the full nodes that run in Africa visible. So I can be reached on Twitter. My handle is @takinbo

Anita Posch [00:48:10] Okay, great. I will put that in the show notes too. So thank you very much. Anything you want to add?

Tim Akinbo [00:48:17] Yeah, I would say that, you know, I would like to see, you know, more podcasts like this. There is a lot that is going on in Africa, and it will be good to actually shed more light into, you know, some of the great things that a lot of entrepreneurs are doing. A lot of things that some of the communities also involved in, And yeah, Bitcoin forever.

Anita Posch [00:48:40] Yeah, exactly. We love Bitcoin. Thank you very much, Tim. That was a great interview and very insightful all the best to you. And I'm sure we will hear from you again.

Tim Akinbo [00:48:52] Thank you very much Anita.

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