In what way have around 3,000 individuals from Africa embraced Bitcoin, commonly referred to as "the internet of money," despite not having internet access?

Machankura, a software tool developed by Kgothatso Ngako, has made it possible for people to use Bitcoin solely with a feature phone, without the need for a computer, smartphone, or internet service.

Ngako shared that they had established a Bitcoin and Lightning node using a raspberry pi and were exploring potential projects to develop on top of it. The idea of a USSD project was appealing since many African Bitcoin users were discussing the possibility of creating a wallet for individuals who only had access to feature phones.

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, also known as USSD, is a telecommunications protocol that enables the transmission of short text messages within a network. Similar to Interactive Voice Response, USSD allows mobile network users to access services by inputting specific codes using their mobile phones.

Machankura facilitates access to its services through USSD codes, which vary depending on the user's location and desired service. Users can send or receive Bitcoin, check their balances, and even trade Bitcoin for goods and services on Bitrefill. Additionally, the tool integrates with the Lightning Network, a second-layer payment system that enables instantaneous and low-cost Bitcoin transactions.

Ngako utilized a UX solution called The Lightning Address to simplify the process of identifying lightning addresses for sending and receiving satoshis for phone users. Typically, standard lightning invoices are complex strings of text that require copying and pasting, a feature that features phone users do not have.

According to Ngako, Machankura currently has 2,900 users in eight active countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. The app's Twitter page previously reported figures indicating a tenfold increase since August.

As Bitcoin continues to gain popularity, tools such as Machankura have the potential to expand and serve the approximately 2.9 billion people globally who do not have internet access.

Ngako expressed his belief that Machankura could help bring Bitcoin to those who have yet to adopt it. He explained that payment technology relies heavily on network effects, meaning that both the sender and receiver must have the capability to send and receive payments for the technology to be widely adopted.


Mar 16, 2023
Crypto News

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