South African developer Kgothatso Ngako contributed to the tech world by designing a new SMS-based service named Machankura. It uses GSM, which can have several Bitcoin users onboard who were previously unreachable by the internet-based Bitcoin protocol.
KG mentioned his fascination for Bitcoin in an interview and his hope that this concept of Bitcoin transactions via SMS would increase the reach of BTC to a wider range of potential users.
In another interview, Master Guantai, founder of Bitcoin Mtaani, said, “The number of cellphones in Africa is double the number of people.” Despite this, the number of smartphones with the internet remains significantly low.
How Machankura Brings Africans Closer to Bitcoin
As per a report by Caribou, in Africa, USSD is the mode for 94% of financial transactions, while mobile apps cover merely 6 percent of such transactions. USSD is the protocol for sending text messages. This conveys that even though millions of phones exist in Africa, most people use them for texting. Thus, with this innovative advancement, there could be a massive revolution in the Bitcoin adoption trend in Africa.
“This year, a lot of conversations in the space were around USSD or making Bitcoin accessible on feature phones—this could be a part-time project–let me just set it up. And that’s basically how Machankura came to be!”
It all started with the African developer building Exonumia, an African language translation project which offers BTC-related information and education in more than a dozen languages. KG believes that if Africans get more access to Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies and realms of the crypto universe, they would learn about money and eventually find ways to improve their quality of life.
According to him, there are two major barriers to the accessibility of Bitcoins in Africa: language and internet access. While he solved the first one with the help of Exonumia, Machankura was the answer to the second issue.
With Machankura, all users have to do is dial a specific number. After this, they will receive a menu from which they can choose and learn more about Bitcoin or register an account. Once the users develop an account using a 5-digit pin, they get a different menu where they can send and receive Bitcoin.
Master Guantai shared with the media that the app works successfully in six African countries. A popular exchange platform, Paxful, has already shown interest in this innovation even though the people highly understate the ease with which a significant population can be onboard via GSM.
Despite these pros, KG has mentioned some potential concerns with this innovation, such as the government reacting negatively to Bitcoin and/or banning it, and the commission fees for purchasing vouchers might harm people’s approach.
Plus, the provision of a centralized company to onboard people into Bitcoin possesses the risk that the users won’t spend enough time getting acquainted with the technology. To add to it, the custodial form of service works against the Bitcoin ethos of “not your keys, not your coins.” To solve this, KG is looking for a way by which users can use their SIM cards as private keys.