More and more people are now becoming aware of the potential of Bitcoin. However, its adoption has been mainly hindered by limited Internet connectivity in some parts of the world, particularly in Africa. A tool called Machankura, developed by Kgothatso “KG” Ngako, has been helping bridge this gap to help promote Bitcoin adoption in the continent.
What is Machankura?
The word “Machankura” is South African slang for money. According to a report by Decrypt, Machankura is a text-based tool that allows feature phone users in African countries to access Bitcoin services without the need for a computer, smartphone, or Internet connection.
To make this possible, the tool uses USSD, a protocol for sending short text messages, to provide services such as sending and receiving Bitcoin as well as checking balances. It also enables bartering Bitcoin for goods and services via Bitrefill or Lightning Watts. Additionally, Machankura can go hand-in-hand with the Lightning Network in order to unlock fast and virtually free Bitcoin transactions.
How It Works
To access Machankura, users simply have to dial a specific code, depending on their location and the service they wish to access. The tool uses a user experience (UX) solution called The Lightning Address to enable users to easily identify lightning addresses for sending and receiving Bitcoin. This is particularly useful for feature phone users who don’t have the copy-and-paste function to handle long, random strings of text.
Machankura’s Growth and Potential
Since its launch, Machankura has attracted nearly 3,000 users across eight African countries. Its present areas of coverage include Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
Machankura’s user base has grown 10-fold in barely a year, according to data from the app’s Twitter page. With Bitcoin adoption on the rise, Machankura has the potential to expand its reach to serve an estimated 2.9 billion people worldwide who still lack Internet access.
Bringing Bitcoin to the Un-Bitcoined
Ngako thinks that Machankura can assist in making Bitcoin more accessible to people who do not have Internet access. In his words, it brings “Bitcoin to the un-Bitcoined”. He believes that the technology’s adoption is highly dependent on network effects, requiring both senders and receivers to have the capability to use it.
While Machankura has been successful in promoting Bitcoin adoption in some parts of Africa and it is seen to provide a massive disruption in its banking system, it is not without limitations. First of all, its text-based interface may not be user-friendly for some people.
Additionally, the lack of Internet connectivity means that users may not be able to access Bitcoin prices or other important information that they need before investing. Furthermore, the tool relies on the USSD protocol, which may not be available in some regions.
In a nutshell, Machankura is a tool that has been instrumental in promoting Bitcoin adoption in Africa, particularly in regions with limited online connectivity. It provides a text-based interface that allows users to access Bitcoin services using feature phones without the need for internet connectivity.
With its growth potential, Machankura surely has the potential to bring Bitcoin to the un-Bitcoined and expand its horizons in regions where communication access is limited.
Giancarlo is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Megaworld Corporation, and the China Banking Corporation in the Republic of the Philippines.
In addition to his civic and corporate pursuits, his forward-thinking approach has led him to manage several prominent websites in the banking and finance sector, notably the Australia-based RateChoice, where he immersed himself in the world of emerging financial technologies and where he found particular interest in Bitcoin all the way back to 2013.
Prior to his addition to Blockzeit’s dynamic team, he held an essential role as Project Manager for initiatives encompassing blockchain, stablecoin, mining, special economic zone development, and iGaming. This noteworthy chapter in his career unfolded under the auspices of InPlan Consultancy Services, Inc., the think-tank of IMPERO Consortium Management Corporation headquartered in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan. InPlan, led by a distinguished retired Cabinet member of the Philippines, collaborates directly with IMPERO’s core management team, contributing to strategic planning and business development endeavors.