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Bitcoin gains traction in Botswana

ISAAC PINIELO
Dr Ariisa
Bitcoin, which is described as a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system, is gradually gaining traction in Botswana.

A private clinic, Sharada Clinic, is one of the few that receive Bitcoin as a form of payment. Run by Dr Donald Ariisa, the clinic is the only health facility in the whole country that accepts Bitcoin.

Ariisa told BusinessWeek that he was inspired to accept Bitcoin as a payment by the fact that his clinic is focused on adopting technologies that allow for sustainability in offering accessible services.

He said Bitcoin is another form of payment just like eWallet, PayPal, Orange Money, My Zaka and others.

“Trading has been existent in many forms from time immemorial. We can accept anything for payment, and the Bitcoin is one of such forms of payment,” Ariisa said.

He added that people already deal in virtual currencies, citing as examples mobile phone airtime and credit cards.

Ariisa further stated that the Bitcoin is safe as it is kept on a blockchain, which is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secured from tampering and revision.

A blockchain is regarded as secure by design and that it is inherently resistant to modification of the data.

In addition, Ariisa said Bitcoins have numerous benefits in that there is no third-party seizure, no taxes, no tracking, no transaction costs, and that Bitcoins cannot be stolen.

It is because of this reason that he expressed confidence on Bitcoins, noting that he is one of the early adopters who will prove the technology viable.

He maintains that very soon he will not be alone in the steps he has taken, noting that Bitcoin will become more popular in the country, and that more businesses and entities will accept it as a form of payment.

Another company that accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment is Bitbrands Digital Marketing, which is owned by Trevor Twala.

He said he started using Bitcoins in 2015 after it was introduced to him by Satoshicenter, a blockchain and bitcoin fintech hub based in Gaborone.

As a digital marketing outfit, Twala said his

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company trades with other companies abroad that pay with Bitcoins.

“This mode is really working well for us ever since we started using it. I encourage businesses to adopt this form of payment,” he said. Alakanani Itireleng, founder of Satoshicenter and Africa lead ambassador for Bitcoin, said her mission is to build a prolific Bitcoin community in Botswana, stating that considering the potential of Bitcoin in Africa, this initiative will ensure that the country will be at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption on the continent.

She said one of the main reasons for the slow growth rate of the Bitcoin community is the lack of awareness and prevalence of misconception about the digital currency.

Through Satoshicenter, Itireleng provides a home for startups working on blockchain, fintech and cryptocurrency sectors by helping them plan, develop and execute sustainable businesses.

“We aim to educate the masses and developers who want to understand the technology and potential Bitcoin brings,” she said.

She expressed concern at some schemes that she said are fake and sold to people in the name of Bitcoin.

Due to this reason, Satoshicenter has partnered with the leading Bitcoin wallet service, BTC.com, to organise a Bitcoin workshop in the country towards the end of this month. Both the companies are on a mission to change the perception of cryptocurrency amongst the masses. Bitcoin is described as an innovative digital payment network and a new kind of money invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto, and was released as open-source software in 2009.

According to Wikipedia, the system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain.

Its promoters believe that it is only a matter of time for Bitcoin to become more popular in the country, and that more businesses and entities will accept it as a form of payment.



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