An Overview of Africa’s Crypto Markets

Cryptocurrency adoption surges in Africa, driven by necessity and financial inclusion.

Robert Greenfield IV
3 min readJul 22, 2023
“Lagos, Nigeria” by Midjourney AI (@ .blackcrypto)

Cryptocurrency adoption in Africa has been growing rapidly in recent years, driven by everyday necessity and the need for financial inclusion. According to a report by blockchain data firm Chainalysis, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of cryptocurrency retail payments under $1,000, accounting for 80% of such transactions globally. The region also has the highest volume of peer-to-peer transactions, making up around 6% of all crypto transaction volume.

Key Drivers of Cryptocurrency Adoption

The use of cryptocurrencies in Africa is driven by retail transactions, remittances, and commercial transactions. Retail-sized transactions below $10,000 make up 6.4% of the region’s transaction volume, with small retail transfers under $1,000 accounting for 80% of the share. Many young people in Sub-Saharan Africa turn to cryptocurrency as a way to preserve and build wealth in the face of low economic opportunity. The volatility of local fiat currencies, such as the Nigerian naira, also drives the need for cryptocurrency in the region.

Cryptocurrencies Addressing Economic Challenges

Cryptocurrencies have also been instrumental in addressing economic challenges in Africa. They have reduced financing gaps for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and facilitated the transfer of remittances. For example, cryptocurrencies such as Ripple facilitated up to $562 million worth of remittance payments to sub-Saharan Africa in 2019. Fintech start-ups in Africa are leveraging cryptocurrencies to democratize finance and provide funding for real estate development and MSMEs.

Regulatory Landscape for Cryptocurrencies

However, the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies in Africa is complex and varies widely across different countries. Many African policymakers have struggled to reconcile cryptocurrencies with their existing monetary systems, leading to a lack of regulatory frameworks or begrudging acceptance of trading without providing an exchange. Banning or excessively intervening in cryptocurrencies would undermine financing for critical sectors in Africa. Instead, governments should establish regulatory sandboxes to encourage experimentation and development while ensuring proper identification, transaction security, and cybersecurity.

The Future of Cryptocurrency Adoption

Despite the challenges, the future of cryptocurrency adoption in Africa looks promising. The use of cryptocurrencies is rapidly growing, with Africans receiving $105.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency payments between July 2020 and June 2021, an increase of 1200% from the previous year. Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria are among the top 10 countries for cryptocurrency use in Africa. The adoption of cryptocurrency in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to continue growing as long as it solves the financial challenges faced by residents, such as economic volatility and cross-border transactions.

Read more here:

  1. Crypto Is Quietly Thriving in Sub-Saharan Africa: Chainalysis Report
  2. The role of cryptocurrencies in sub-Saharan Africa
  3. How Cryptocurrency Meets Residents’ Economic Needs in Sub-Saharan Africa
  4. Africa crypto transactions increase despite bear market
  5. Crypto seeks regulation, market stability [Business Africa]
  6. The FTX Crash Will Have a Lasting Impact on the African Crypto Community
  7. Bitcoin is poised to blow up Africa’s $86 billion banking system
  8. Global Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Market Report 2023: Countries in Middle East and Africa are Catching up in Terms of Adoption and Ownership of Cryptocurrency —

About the Author

Robby Greenfield has over a decade of experience in blockchain and financial engineering. He has served as an industry leader in deploying decentralized applications in emerging markets, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia Pacific, and LATAM. Robby has worked with renowned blockchain firm ConsenSys, co-deploying innovative solutions and collaborating with organizations like the U.S. State Department, the World Bank, the UNOPS, Oxfam International, and Care International. Currently, he is the CEO of Umoja Labs, a Coinbase and Mercy Corps-backed Web3 fintech providing payments and credit infrastructure across Sub-Saharan Africa.



Robert Greenfield IV

CEO of Umoja Labs, Former Head of ConsenSys Social Impact, @Goldman Alum, @Cisco Alum, @TFA Alum, Activist, Intense Autodidact