Hootsuite’s 2019 Global Digital Report ranked South Africa as the world’s top nation for crypto ownership, with 10.7% of internet users in the country holding a financial interest in cryptocurrency. The global average was only 5.5%.
“This is the second indicator in the past few weeks which shows that Africa, and in particular South Africa, is ripe for a transition towards digital currencies. There’s untold, massive potential here,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance exchange technology. “The continent actually may serve as a leader in terms of early adoption.”
Both Ghana and Kenya also ranked among the top 45 nations in the survey, which included responses from internet users between 16-64 years of age. Earlier this month, crypto exchange Paxful indicated significant transaction volume growth within the continent.
“This new survey is the latest evidence that Africans are adopting this emerging technology at a rapid rate. There are geopolitical factors at play that combine to make the continent an ideal petri dish for innovation within the industry,” noted Gardner. “Here, this isn’t just speculation or an academic exercise. Digital currencies already have a place within the economy, and they fulfill a real need.”
“Fiat currencies throughout Africa have long been weak on the international market. The volatility and instability found within these monetary systems have hamstrung the economies of emerging markets,” explained Gardner. “That’s why cryptocurrencies are so appealing. Even as the industry has had some volatility of its own, many investors in Africa have looked to digital assets as a way to guard against inflation.”
The South African Rand, among other currencies including the Zimbabwean Dollar, are struggling against alternative currencies, whether digital or fiat. “There is significant talent within Africa, especially in the technology sector. Adoption of digital currencies may have been jumpstarted by circumstance, but anybody counting Africa out from the tech race is premature,” said Gardner.
“Yes, there are a host of challenges that economies throughout the continent face, including access to infrastructure. But, as they say, necessity is the mother of innovation,” said Gardner. “As the world realizes that the technology behind cryptocurrencies is here to stay, Africa may be a prime position to attract specialty start-ups. Obviously, such an injection into a community and economy would have far-reaching ripples.”
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and exchanges. Over the past twenty years, the company has built a client list which includes Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, NASA, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and University of Chicago.