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Major use cases of cryptocurrencies in Africa

by Ndianabasi Tom

Cryptocurrencies, which are digital forms of money, run on decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) networks known as blockchains. While the use cases of cryptocurrencies are enormous and unquantifiable, they are primarily seen as an alternative to traditional or fiat currencies as they make transactions and payments transparent, faster, and more effective. 

Over the years, cryptocurrencies have been steadily gaining popularity in Africa given their notable use cases and benefits. The continent’s challenges, such as limited access to traditional banking services and high remittance costs, have made cryptocurrencies an attractive solution. Notably, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana, amongst others, are the countries leading crypto adoption in Africa. Africa is reported by Chainalysis to be one of the fastest-growing crypto markets in the world, but it is presently the smallest market. In mid-2021, crypto transactions in Africa hit $20 billion monthly.

Cryptocurrencies have found considerable applications in various sectors in different African economies. These applications are expected to expand and deepen over time. In this article, we examine the present use cases of cryptocurrencies, illuminating how they are increasingly becoming central to the daily lives of Africans. 

Read also: What is cryptocurrency?

Crypto adoption in Africa 

With the increasing awareness and interest among individuals, businesses, and governments, crypto adoption is steadily rising in Africa. Many Africans now see cryptocurrencies as a way to overcome financial barriers, such as limited access to banking services and high remittance costs. 

Notably, the adoption of cryptocurrencies in most African nations has been sparked by grassroots or local initiatives. Meetups, conferences, and educational activities are on the rise in Africa as many crypto communities continue to host them to create awareness. Likewise, many African-founded crypto projects are in existence today. 

Speaking of the regulatory environment in Africa regarding crypto, different approaches have been used by different African countries. While some nations have outrightly banned crypto or enacted stricter rules, several African nations have demonstrated friendliness and openness to blockchain and crypto. 

Major use cases of cryptocurrencies in Africa

Africa is among the continents with a huge level of crypto adoption with countries such as Nigeria leading the adoption race. Below are some of the major use cases of cryptocurrencies in Africa:

1. Remittances and cross-border payments

Africa has a large diaspora population and some African families bank on money given by relatives who live overseas. Up to $100 billion in remittances is received by African households each year. Therefore, remittances play a crucial part in the continent’s economy. Traditional remittance methods can be replaced with cryptocurrency for a swifter and less expensive option. 

With cryptocurrencies, individuals can send and receive money across borders for fewer transaction fees and with quicker settlement periods. Beyond serving as a tool for efficient cross-border payments, cryptocurrencies can also be employed for internal payments. Over the years, many blockchain-based platforms have emerged to enable cheap cryptocurrency transfers, which is advantageous to both senders and recipients.

Read also: What is bitcoin?

2. Store of value

A number of African nations particularly experience high inflation rates due to poor economic conditions. Also, the value of several African currencies tends to depreciate over time rather than appreciate, causing individuals to record losses in their savings or investments. 

Cryptocurrencies can be used as an alternate store of value and hedge against inflation. Africans can safeguard their wealth and maintain their purchasing power in the face of weakening national currencies by storing their wealth in stable cryptocurrencies. Africans already do this, especially with the adoption of stablecoins.

Read also: Introduction to Stablecoins: USDT, USDC, and BUSD

3. Investment

Though highly risky, cryptocurrencies have proven to be profitable investment tools for Africans beyond serving as an alternative payment method. Price volatility is one of the prominent features of cryptocurrencies, hence individuals often leverage this to make gains. 

Many Africans are already investing in cryptocurrencies for profit-making while it is believed that a greater number would come to see cryptocurrencies as an investment vehicle as governments introduce helpful regulatory policies. Meanwhile, existing and intending crypto investors should acquaint themselves with the risks associated with this digital asset class.  

Read also: How do I manage investment risks in the crypto market?

4. Peer-to-Peer payments

Making money transfers with traditional currencies requires the services of intermediaries such as banks or other financial institutions. This often leads to excess charges and delays in transaction processing amongst others. This is where cryptocurrencies come in. 

Among the top use cases of cryptocurrencies is peer-to-peer (p2p) payments. Cryptocurrencies are built on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, hence, transferring them does not require intermediaries. Cryptocurrencies enable individuals to make payments directly and swiftly without banks. 

Accordingly, peer-to-peer trading platforms continue to gain popularity in Africa as they provide avenues for individuals to buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly without relying on centralized exchanges

5. eCommerce

In Africa, the use of cryptocurrencies for online payments and ecommerce, locally and internationally, is picking up, though slowly. Gradually, several companies and businesses in Africa have begun accepting cryptocurrencies as payment methods with the help of crypto payment gateways. 

Enabled by crypto payment gateways, people can use cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), TetherUSD (USDT) etc., to pay for products and services from online retailers. In some cases, stablecoin-supported virtual cards may also be used, seamlessly.

Particularly when central banks with their regulated banks and other financial institutions introduce inconvenient transaction limits to debit cards, using cryptocurrencies for ecommerce transactions become more attractive.

6. Improving financial inclusion

Unbanked or underbanked, a sizable segment of Africa’s population still lacks access to fundamental financial services. By embracing cryptocurrencies, financial inclusion can be improved in Africa. Amongst other reasons, the requirements for utilizing cryptocurrencies are quite simple. While some users prefer  centralized exchanges because of their easy-to-use platforms, some others prefer decentralized exchanges because it puts more control in their hands. Unlike traditional banking, anyone can open a crypto wallet with a smartphone and an internet connection and immediately gain access to the crypto assets ecosystem. 


In Africa, cryptocurrencies can be quite useful in solving many issues, especially those related to remittance, financial inclusion, inflation, payment, and ecommerce amongst others. As crypto adoption continues to increase in the continent, it is believed that cryptocurrency use cases will expand and deepen in Africa and globally. Importantly, both individuals and companies must acquaint themselves with the risks associated with this digital asset class before opting to embrace it. 

Apparently, considering the use cases of cryptocurrencies in Africa, regulators are expected to adopt an African approach to regulation, not a China or U.S approach, otherwise this may result in considerable monetary policy issues and supervisory risks.

Read more: Top 6 Hacks on How To Avoid Losses in Crypto Trading

Credit: Ndianabasi Tom  A crypto journalist and content writer who has been talking about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, Ndianabasi is a Writer at Crypto Asset Buyer (CAB).