Putting money where mouth is

Why Dorsey & Jay-Z Put Down 500 BTC ($23.6M) For Africa’s Bitcoin Future

By  |  February 12, 2021

At the end of Jack Dorsey’s 2019 trip to three African countries, the Twitter and Square CEO famously hinted at relocating to Africa for up to six months in 2020.

The debate around which country(ies) Dorsey intended to relocate was the talking point that got all the buzz, and this somewhat overshadowed his actual parting words which were: “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!).”

Of course, that move to Africa didn’t materialise given the extraordinary occurrence that 2020 turned out to be, but it looks like Dorsey is finally putting his money where his mouth is: Africa’s bitcoin future.

Today, Dorsey announced in a tweet that he has teamed up with famous music star and entrepreneur, Shawn Corey Carter (better known as Jay-Z), to commit 500 BTC (worth around USD 23.6 Mn at this time) to a new endowment named ₿trust to fund bitcoin development, with an initial focus on teams in Africa and India.

Dorsey further stated that ₿trust will be set up as a blind irrevocable trust, meaning that neither he nor Jay-Z will have any power to dictate or direct any matters around the fund. The announcement ended with a call for board members to apply.

With this development, Dorsey, who is known to be bullish on bitcoin, appears to be following through with an overarching mission of “making bitcoin the currency of the internet.”

And the fact that he appears to be throwing his hat in for emerging/frontier markets where cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have been caught in regulatory crosshairs suggests an aggressive play that seeks to take on the hardest terrains first.

Cryptocurrency adoption has exploded in Africa over the last few years, particularly in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, with record volumes and values of crypto (mostly bitcoin) traded both formally and informally. Nigeria, which happens to be one of the African countries Dorsey visited in 2019, boasts the world’s No.2 bitcoin market worldwide, according to some sources.

Dorsey has been a vocal supporter of the adoption of cryptocurrency for a long while. The payments company he leads, Square, acquired about USD 50 Mn worth of bitcoin for its corporate treasury last year and now supports bitcoin on its platform. As the CEO of Twitter, he’s revealed that the company is studying the potential use of bitcoin to pay its employees and vendors.

With crypto exploding in parts of Africa, the timing of Dorsey’s new endeavour which aims to fund bitcoin developments across the continent is no coincidence.

However, the timing is also ominous given that one of the more active African markets that Dorsey and Jay-Z’s pro-bitcoin endowment is likely to fund, Nigeria, is currently embroiled in what looks like a State-backed war against crypto. Oddly, the other target of the endowment, India, is also caught up in a similar issue.

A week ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered banks to close the accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges and any other accounts tied to cryptocurrency trade in the country, citing concerns over fraud and illicit activity.

This effectively took away the ability of crypto exchanges to process deposits and, in some cases, withdrawals, for the teeming population of users in Nigeria. In addition, there have been reports of individual bank accounts getting blacklisted and closed down.

Over the past week, crypto exchanges have stumbled and staggered but largely remain standing as they try to find their way around the challenges created by the CBN order, though it is also understood that the whole “crypto matter” is being debated in parliament.

In the same vein, it’s been reported that the Indian government is looking to introduce its own “public” cryptocurrency and ban “private” ones like bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, and others.

But despite these setbacks, Dorsey appears to be fine with going against the establishment and has now thrown a significant amount of money behind the cause.

Featured Image Courtesy: Cointelegraph

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