No Internet Connection or Smartphone? You Can Still Use Bitcoin Now (*).
(*): Only in Africa for the moment, thanks to the promising Machankura project.
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Bitcoin is available to virtually everyone on Earth. I have to say “virtually” here because as it is, you still need an Internet connection to be able to use Bitcoin. Then it would help if you had at least a smartphone that could connect to the Internet.
If more than 63% of the world's population uses the Internet every day today, that is to say, a little more than 5 billion people, we can see substantial disparities in the penetration of the Internet depending on the geographical areas in the world:
Among the leading countries, you can find the United Arab Emirates with a 100% Internet penetration, Bahrain and Qatar at 99.6%, then Liechtenstein at 99.5%. If you look at the G7 countries, you will see Canada emerging as the leader at 96.97%, ahead of the UK at 94.82%, and America at 90.90%.
With such high rates of Internet penetration among the population, anyone can really use Bitcoin in these countries.
But if you look at Africa, you will see that the situation is much more complicated. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Internet penetration rate is just over 30%. On the South Asian side, it's not much better at 38.56%. There are many different reasons for this lag in communications infrastructure development, and it is not the subject of this article to discuss them.
The only thing that matters here is the consequence of these figures: the populations in these geographical areas cannot use Bitcoin. This affects hundreds of millions of people.
Machankura project aims to make Bitcoin accessible with a simple cell phone
Fortunately, some people understand that making Bitcoin available to as many people as possible is essential for the future of the world. This is especially true of the people behind the Machankura project. This project is for the moment only for residents of several African countries, but it is so promising that I had to tell you about it now.
In this project, it is possible to send and receive Bitcoin without an Internet connection or a smartphone. A simple GSM cell phone does the trick. This is an important step forward, as it addresses a fundamental need in parts of the world where Bitcoin has a concrete use case.
Indeed, cryptocurrencies have enabled the advent of fast, low-cost money transfers around the world. For Bitcoin, this is further illustrated in the Lightning Network. But this was only possible for people with an Internet connection, at least until now.
The Machankura project is an innovation that allows Bitcoin to be sent and received via the GSM network in the following African countries:
Of course, the service is still young and it is hoped that it will cover more countries as it develops.
USSD technology to help democratize Bitcoin
The idea of spending or receiving Bitcoin without an Internet connection through Machankura's services may seem like a fuzzy idea. However, it is based on a technology that has been around for many years: Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
Perhaps some people remember the time when mobile credit was not unlimited and typing “#123#” on your cell phone would show you the status of your usage. This instruction is a USSD code. Each USSD code is created in such a way that when we type it, our phone will perform a specific action.
Thus, the following USSD codes allow users in the countries concerned to set up an address on the Lighting Network, which will be linked to their phone number:
Technically speaking, it is not even necessary to own a smartphone to use these features, any feature phone (as they are now called) will do.
Let's take the example of a person who left his country to have a better income to help his family back home. If the recipients do not have an Internet connection, the use of Machankura will be very suitable, provided that the receiving address has been configured with the USSD code:
A sender can thus send Satoshis to the phone number of his choice. Unfortunately, this solution does not yet have any real educational content to make it easy to use, but there is no doubt that it remains promising.
While access to the Web is not yet available all over the world, as I mentioned in the introduction, such initiatives bring real added value to people for whom Bitcoin is already much more than a simple investment vehicle.
For those who want to know more and follow the evolution of the project, even if the use of Machankura's services probably doesn't concern you, you can go directly to the project's website: https://8333.mobi/.
Anyway, an excellent initiative that will motivate others to develop such projects elsewhere in the world to promote the adoption of Bitcoin among those who need it most.
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