An interview with Kgothatso Ngako on consumer adoption of bitcoin

Part of Azteco's “Adopting Bitcoin / Action Leadership” series to celebrate the people and companies driving consumer adoption of bitcoin.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

“Machankura is a service that gives a person without an internet connected device the ability to send and receive bitcoin.”

Machankura, simply explained

Machankura is a service primarily using USSD that allows people to send and receive bitcoin without having an internet connected device. The service and interface is built in such a way that the minimum requirement is a cellular connection.

Internet connectivity is different depending on whether or not you have net neutrality in the country that you live in. USSD is a technology that a lot of people have gotten accustomed to using in African countries and the target audience can relate to.

Once a person creates an account with the service they get a lightning address to their phone number and effectively, the user can then send and receive sats to and from any wallet with a lightning address functionality.

The experience is set up as a fully text based chat interface with a prompt and response interaction that is limited to 160 characters and timed to 20 seconds which is the main difference between USSD and the normal SMS interface.

How bitcoin is helping the unbanked in Africa

“In Africa, 50% of the population does not have an identity document or government recognized identity document which technically means that 50% of the African population cannot open a normal bank account.

“In South Africa, as an example, people used to be able to use an app when transacting with a bank. This has now changed and today a person needs to physically visit the bank, provide reasons for transactions together with forms that need to be filed.

“From an entrepreneurial standpoint - we are starting to see more and more entrepreneurs in bitcoin. A lot of African countries have capital controls that really make it hard if you are an entrepreneur.

“Bitcoin and any bitcoin wallet basically allows people to participate in economic transactions in ways that they may have never imagined before. Not just locally but internationally.

“With bitcoin, a person without an identity document - the unbanked - is now able to send and receive value in whatever way they prefer. And entrepreneurs can save valuable time by not having to physically visit the banks. Seeing more entrepreneurs use and embrace bitcoin will hopefully lead to very interesting results.”

Predicting the biggest challenges for consumer adoption of bitcoin during 2024

“What ultimately became the thing for me was that I would go to the store to buy a loaf of bread and instead of getting change I'll just ask the shopkeeper to give me the equivalent of the change with a voucher and then redeem that voucher for bitcoin”

So to help unlock a lot of new users and people to use bitcoin on a daily basis and in their day-to-day business activities. To have the mindset of an exchange rather than trading.