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Kenya’s first Bitcoin ATM

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Kenya is one of the African countries which have shown a great optimism and enthusiasm towards digital currencies. Indeed, the cryptocurrency is experiencing the best of its time in Kenya and East Africa as a whole. The countries have been pushing past the boundaries and looking the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology with a whole different perspective. Despite the confusions and wrangles between government, banks, and this interesting technology called blockchain, some great minds have formed different communities to help explain and shun light to those who might not have been able to vividly understand the blockchain technology. Kenyan incubation hubs have been full of blockchain and/or cryptocurrency meetups and conferences with the aim of betterness of understanding of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

It is into a whole new level!

Kenya has just launched the first Bitcoin ATM. The location of the ATM is Westlands, Nairobi at Kenrails Towers, third floor. Through this new innovation, more accomplishments and improvements will be made in the blockchain field in the Kenyan market. Some of these accomplishments and improvements include;

  1. People will be more openly and physically buy and sell cryptocurrencies against their fiat currencies. The exchange of cryptocurrencies against the fiat currencies have not been easy over the previous years. This is because there were no physical places where these exchanges could be done. Now that we have a physical and specific local place where the exchanges can be done, more people will hopefully venture into cryptocurrencies world.
  2. New ways to adopt and embrace cryptocurrency might pop up in the near future. The introduction of the ATM shows people the possibilities of the cryptocurrencies in the Kenyan economy. It assures people that cryptocurrency is not a scam, as others might argue. The same way you can go to a nearby ATM to withdraw physical money is the same way you can go to a cryptocurrency ATM (currently at Westlands) to buy or sell crypto coins or other crypto assets (hopefully in the near future).

The steps taken at the ATM (if you want to buy some cryptocurrencies) are as easy as…

a) Insert 500 KES or more to the machine.

b) Open your Bitcoin wallet and scan the receive QR code provided.

c) Enter your phone number

d) Wait for a confirmation code.

e) Enter the phone confirmation code

After the above process, you’ll receive a receipt for your purchase. Thereafter (~ less than 10 minutes) the Bitcoins will be reflected on your account.

Two main disadvantages of the ATM at the moment;

  1. You cannot purchase Bitcoins worth less than 500 KES. This might be a barrier to Bitcoin enthusiasts who might want to try it with less amount of money or those who cannot afford 500 KES.
  2. The exchange rate is much higher than the market rate. This means that the service is much more expensive compared to the normal market rate. This might also discourage and repel people from enjoying the service. Hopefully, we will see more ATMs in the near future to create competition which will later reduce the expensiveness of the exchange rates. Right now there is a monopoly in the sector and that’s probably why the exchange rates are high.

And Uganda, the hosts of the Africa Blockchain Conference 2018 is not left behind. If you are from Uganda, you can change your cryptocurrencies (Mostly ETH and Bitcoin) at Post office counter no. 25 on Kampala Road.

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