We spoke with Ted Owusu Duodu, CEO of PMCedis Capital, a company based in Ghana, to discuss the insatiable demand for bitcoin in the country.
Ghana: #1 in Bitcoin Interest
Many Bitcoin experts and entrepreneurs are especially excited about Bitcoin’s use-case for remittances and cross-border transactions in developing countries. This is particularly true for many countries in Africa, where companies such as BitPesa in Kenya, are taking the money transfer market by storm. Local Bitcoin startups are taking advantage of the high transaction fees imposed by companies such as Western Union and are offering the public a much cheaper way to receive and send money abroad.
If you have taken a look at the Google Trends for the term “Bitcoin” in recent times, you may have noticed that interest in the African country of Ghana is through the roof — yes, it’s ranked at number one in the world at 100% interest. At the recent Blockchain Conference in Moscow, Bitcoin.com caught up with Ted Owusu Duodu, the CEO of PMCedis Capital, a company based in Accra, Ghana, offering digital currency exchange services, to discuss whether the demand for bitcoin in the country is, in fact, for real.
“The people who are into [Bitcoin] are mostly the youth.”
– Ted Owusu Duodo
Bitcoin.com (BC): How would you assess the demand for bitcoin in Ghana in general right now?
Ted Owusu Duodo (TD): The demand for bitcoin in Ghana is very high. But, in general, very few people know about Bitcoin. The people who are into it are mostly the youth and among them, the demand is very, very high.
BC: How many people have smartphones in the country?
TD: Most people in Ghana have smartphones. A lot of them even have more than one.
BC: So the combination of smartphones and Bitcoin technology enables the people in Ghana to have access to the global economy, which is something they can’t do with their local currency?
TD: Exactly. One more thing that gets people involved is that it makes transactions very fast. And, in Ghana, bitcoin is valued higher than our local currency. So what happens is that people store bitcoins for maybe two months, three months on the exchanges. Then it appreciates and people change it to the local currency.
BC: So it’s not only used as a means of exchange but as a store of value to hedge against the volatility of the Ghanaian Cedi?
TD: Very good, and our company PMCedi exchanges bitcoins and other fiat currencies. We also exchange other crypto currencies such as Perfect Money and Litecoin.
BC: So you’re here at this conference to acquire more cryptocurrency due to the demand in Ghana?
TD: That is it, and also to know more about Bitcoin and the blockchain in general.
BC: What is the Bitcoin startup scene like over there right now? Are you part of a larger group of companies working to develop the local digital currency infrastructure there?
TD: Yes, there are a lot of them, but most deal in retail. I concentrate on wholesale and distribution.
BC: Are there a lot merchants there accepting bitcoin?
TD: Yes, in terms of bitcoin merchants, meaning they have bitcoins and they sell them to the people as a business. But as far as merchants selling goods for bitcoin and accepting as a mode payment in Ghana, no, because regular stores do not know about it. See, nowadays, we know of people who send money cross-border to banks over there and it is very expensive.
TD: Remittances, yea you get it. But if you know that Bitcoin can do better than bank transfer and other uses, then I think more people will go into Bitcoin.
BC: Is is catching on quicker in the rural areas or the city or both?
TD: When you say Ghana, you want to say Accra. That’s the main city, the capital. But I can count about four main rural areas in Ghana that are more into Bitcoin than the other remaining areas.
BC: What Bitcoin use-cases do you think will drive popularity in Ghana? Store of value, means of exchange, remittances etc.
TD: I think it’s everything. When it’s popularity increases, more people will dive into it and accept it. The youth is so much into Bitcoin. Before, what we used was Perfect Money. It is still there but it is no longer as popular as Bitcoin.
Do you think Ghana will become Africa’s Bitcoin hub? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
Images courtesy of pmcedi.com, ghanaflag.facts.co, eastwestafrica.wordpress.com