I interviewed a Ghanaian entrepeneur called Philip Agyei Asare about bitcoins. It is a digital currency used in many countries. He is the founder of Dream Bitcoin Foundation. It is a non-profit organization based in Ghana. The mission is to facilitate the greater usage and acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an alternative form of payment by providing an online cryptocurrency exchange platform and merchant solutions.
Dream Bitcoin Foundation will be raising Bitcoin funds for projects that will build a bright future for Ghana by bringing together all young, ambitious and self-determining entrepreneurs and enabling them to achieve their dreams, without the need for government assistance. The foundation will enable them to establish their various businesses online to serve the international market, and their mode of payment will be through Bitcoin.
I interviewed Philip in June and in July. Due to my busy schedule, I wasn’t able to publish the interview during the summer period. In this interview, you will get to know about bitcoins.
He got to know about bitcoin when he attended Central University College in Accra. He didn’t really use it until he started his business, Paksmsgh, which is a bulk SMS messaging platform. He even told his investor that he wanted to start accepting bitcoins. His investor told him that it’s too complex. Furthermore, he advised Philip not to do it. He was educated more about the bitcoin by a professor who lives in the U.S.
Last year, he held a bitcoin seminar at Kumasi Polytechnic. A lot of foreign visitors came. Some came from Sweden and Sierra Leone.
Phyllis Ntim: What is Bitcoin?
Philip Asare Agyei: Bitcoin is a digital currency which can be traded globally. Any country can receive bitcoins. It is a decentralized type of money. No government has authority over it.
Phyllis Ntim: How does it work?
Philip Asare Agyei: Bitcoin works like mobile money. In Africa, Bitcoin has several advantages over it. Bitcoin can be traded across international borders. Mobile money payment is limited in countries that use it. With Bitcoin, one can save any amount of money one wants but with mobile money, one is obliged to save an amount such as 10,000 ghana cedis, which is the maximum amount one can save in his/her wallet. With Bitcoin, one can save 1 billion or 100 billion US dollars. Bitcoin is being embraced by Libertarians.
Phyllis Ntim: And who are Libertarians?
Philip Agyei Asare: Libertarians believe that we should have a government but they shouldn’t monopolize our rights. For. e.g., we vote for a political party to come into power. Normally, the Libertarians would ask you: “Are you having your liberty?”. This is because everyone is supposed to have his/her liberty. Bitcoin came in a Libertarian way. If I want to you send thousand dollars right now, the fee won’t even reach a dollar. Bitcoin can never shutdown. Right now, it’s main public ledger is the blockchain.
Phyllis Ntim: What is a blockchain?
Philip Agyei Asare: Blockchain is a public ledger, whereby all transactions of Bitcoins take place. If I give you the details of my wallet address to deposit money into it, you can track it on the blockchain to know the amount of money that the wallet address has received. But you can never know the identity of someone who has a wallet address unless the person tells you. There is no name, no data about people’s wallet addresses.
Phyllis Ntim: I read somewhere on the internet that users are in charge of the blockchain. Is that true or are there some people that are controlling the blockchain?
Philip Agyei Asare: No one is controlling the blockchain. Bitcoin is like gold. Gold prices rise and fall. When Bitcoin transactions take place, miners are responsible for confirming them.
Phyllis Ntim: How does one mine a bitcoin?
Philip Agyei Asare: Bitcoins are mined with special high-grade computers. It’s not easy to mine bitcoins in Africa, because they need a cool environment. If I want to mine bitcoins, I have to connect my high-grade computer to the bitcoin network. The moment it is connected, there are also other miners connected to it. The moment a transaction takes place, it needs to be confirmed on the blockchain. After confirmation, the $1000 that I sent to you will be deducted from my account, and the miners will take their fee, which is normally $0.04.
Phyllis Ntim: What does the miner do with the money?
Philip Agyei Asare: If thousands of transactions are taking place today, the miner can exchange the money for any currency. For example, if you buy $30 worth of bitcoins and one dollar is 4,50 ghana cedis, multiply the 30 by 4,50. Some use bitcoins to shop online and host websites.
Phyllis Ntim: My ING bank account is connected to Paypal. If someone is Ghana does online banking, can his/her bank account be connected to the bitcoin platform?
Philip Asare: Not really. Bitcoin is developing in Africa. There are numerous wallet companies in the U.S. and in the UK. An example is Coinbase. Someone in the U.S. can connect his/her bank account to the Coinbase account. If you want to send money by using bitcoins and the person doesn’t know how it works, you can send me the money, and I will send it to the person through mobile money.
His remittance platform, BTC Ghana was launched on 15 november 2015, which uses bitcoins. It was established to help Africans who don’t know anything about bitcoins to send money to recipients via the platform in order for them (the recipients) to receive mobile money, which can be cashed out at the nearest mobile money agency.
For more info about Dream Bitcoin Foundation and BTC Ghana, contact Philip Asare via this number: +233244376573.