Expanding financial services access with Cryptocurrencies

The financial services space is widening with the rising interest Nigerians are showing in investing in Cryptocurrencies. Even hedge fund providers are now investing a lot in bitcoins thereby opening a new channel for providing financial services for the banked, under-banked and banked. The founder and lead, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy, Rume Ophi, emphasizes the opportunities inherent in investing in Cryptocurrency and why bitcoin is the next big thing connecting more Nigerians to financial services net, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

The Cryptocurrency space is fast expanding, with more people, including those at the grassroots embracing the digital investment plan. Even hedge fund providers are now investing a lot in bitcoins.

For instance, Square, a crypto friendly payment platform stated last month that it has put a total of one per cent of its holdings on Bitcoin valued at $50 Million.

Founder, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy, Rume Ophi said Cryptocurrency presents a lot of investment opportunities for Nigerians at all cadres of the society.

He said Nigerians should start using bitcoins as means of transactions but people that want to use bitcoin as an alternate form of financial instrument to do transactions should be able to do that. The idea of putting fear in people is not right.

According to him, the knowledge of Cryptocurrency is really growing globally because people now look for an alternative form of money. Ordinarily, money is a way of adding value.

He explained that “during the era of trade by barter, if you work for me, I can decide to pay you with rice, garri or beans and the government was not involved. But today, we have moved from the trade by barter to trading with gold, then to receiving documents from the government for transaction purposes, which has metamorphosed to paper money. The government can decide to print as much money as it wants through the monetary policy. In 2012, bitcoin was $10 and the exchange rate to the naira then was N157. It means one bitcoin then was N1,570”.

“But now, one bitcoin is over eight million naira. There is this global attention given to bitcoins because even the dollar is losing its value. Earlier, the U.S government injected about $1trillion as a stimulus package to its citizens, and there could be a second wave. People are beginning to realise that their money is no longer getting the right value, inflation has come in”.

“The supply of bitcoins is fixed and I believe that most people don’t know how much naira are currently in circulation but we know that 18million bitcoins are now in circulation as against 21 million bitcoins that will be its total supply. People now see bitcoin as digital gold. So, instead of getting the physical gold, you just need a piece of the software, you could get bitcoin on your wallet”.

He said that Cryptocurrency asset manager Grayscale Investments now holds more than 500,000 BTC in its Bitcoin Trust product, GBTC. All of these things are inspiring. For big institutions to be getting bitcoins, it shows there is a future in it.

On the risks associated with investing in the sector, he said he is a member of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria. The group, he added, is is a self-regulated and operators have been able to engage the government and tell them our stands to regulate this space and we will support it. They have also been able to engage a few persons from the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Ophi attended a webinar organised by Stakeholders in the Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria. One of the key participants spoke about the government wanting to regulate the space because they are aware that a lot of Nigerians are getting involved in crypto.

He said Nigerians are one of the highest downloaders of crypto wallets. If the government regulates the space, it will be a safe guide against scammers. They have given Exchange owners an ultimatum to register with the SEC.

“When we had shortage of dollars in Nigeria, a lot of people started using bitcoin because it is money. This increased the awareness in bitcoin investment. In the last six months, bitcoin has grown by over 100 percent despite global economic downturn and impact of COVID-19. This was possible because people now transact on bitcoin which is easier. People don’t want to go through the rigorous process of always going to the bank. Nigerians have realised that leaving their money in bitcoin will increase the value of their money.”

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“At some point this year, we have seen the exchange rate go up from N360 to about N478 to a dollar. If you put your money in bitcoin years ago, by now, you would be making over double of what you invested. These are opportunities. You earn money by not doing anything but just having your money in bitcoin. It is an opportunity for Nigerians. Some shipping companies abroad now accept bitcoin as a means of exchange”.

Bitcoin is money for young people. Bitcoin is growing. In the last three elections in the USA, bitcoin has grown from $10 to $700 to now $13,800. People have estimated that bitcoin may do almost $100,000 before the next US elections.

“The world now is focused on technology. I will advise Nigerians to save on Crypto in the long term. For the short term, they can do short trading which I do. People can do remittance where they get paid in bitcoin. I write articles about crypto and I get paid in bitcoin. I teach and do public speaking as well and I get paid in bitcoin. I do customised crypto shirts as well. As basic as these things are, you can bring crypto in. You can even be a Crypto lawyer”

On his message to Nigerians, he said Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank stated that ‘We should be happier that we have a job rather than have our savings protected.’ A lot of people want to protect their savings forgetting that if you keep money in the bank, it could depreciate. If you relate it with what Lagarde said, you will understand that it is not just about putting money in the bank but making returns.

“When it is dark, a lot of people know it’s dark. People are not scared that it is dark but they are scared of what comes with the darkness. There could be someone with a gun or a knife or something may be dangerous out there. But when you get into the dark, and see what is in the dark and approach it, automatically, you cut your fears. If you don’t know what is going on in the space, it increases your fears but if you have the right knowledge, you will understand the right things to do. We are always here to help people understand these things,” he said.

Speaking on his success stories, Ophi said that in July, 2019, he was the only Nigerian in the Africa BlockChain Conference at Uganda Kampala and it was a privilege for me, as I met other Africans that inspired me. “I met the Minister for Artificial Intelligence in the United Arab Emirates, (UAE). We have had students becoming financially free, making as much as $100 daily in Nigeria. Some others have taken to Cypto full time. I am particular about young people because the jobs are not really there. I give the knowledge for free but I have a master class, where people go deep into Crypto. This year is the best year for me because I had to teach 20 sets of students who took my Master class. That was a huge success story for me. I have been able to do a lot of training,” he stated.

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