For Nigerian banks to deal with blockchain technologies, it’s need to understand cryptocurrencies – Walker

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Lady Victoria Walker is the Chief Operating Officer of United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation, founder of Bitmogul Academy, Author of the Bitmogul Guide, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Speaker, and Principal Consultant at Cryptoria Investment Research. The UK-based fintech entrepreneur is also a pan-african economic activist, is committed to empowering African leaders through education on global economics, international banking, finance, and the evolution of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. In this interview with CHIJIOKE NELSON, she said proper understanding and deployment of Bitcoin can facilitate the achievement of financial inclusion and growth of not just Nigeria, but Africa as a whole.

What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was created in 2009. A cryptocurrency can be a used as form of payment or store of value in the digital world. Bitcoin uses a new technological innovation called the blockchain, and Bitcoin was very the first blockchain application to grace the world. As a result of Bitcoin thousands of new applications and cryptocurrencies have been built on the blockchain. Now there are many cryptocurrencies, over 1500 to be exact, and all these cryptocurrencies are doing major things in the world.

In your judgement, is Bitcoin an adventure or reality?
Bitcoin is a reality. We have all major world governments scrambling to make sense of it and world leaders sharing their views on the currency. For the past 700 years our world has relied on the European legacy banking system for means of payments and transactions. International trade rely heavily on holding USD for transactions and it takes up to 5 days for international payments to settle. The legacy banking system hasn’t seen any innovation for years, so Bitcoin is definitely challenging the traditional way when it comes to transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information, Bitcoin and blockchain technology will change how we transfer, store and share valuable assets and information.

What is behind its rising value?
The rising value is merely based on speculation, which is why Bitcoin must be purchased with caution, especially if you’re looking to profit from Bitcoin. Many people don’t understand how financial markets move. Prices move up and prices move down. An true investor understands this concept, however, many people who hear about Bitcoin believe it’s a get-rich-scheme and think if they buy some Bitcoin they will be rich. That might have been the case when you purchased it at £1 per Bitcoin, but today most people who make money from Bitcoin trade it. They buy when the price moves low and sell then it moves high. That doesn’t mean you still can’t buy now and make money, you just have to know when to buy and when to sell.

Many people lost money when they purchased Bitcoin in Nov/Dec because they purchased when the market was excited. An investor knows this is best time sell. Now that the prices have fallen, a true investor knows this is the time to buy. I predict the value to Bitcoin to continue to increase over the years and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, EOS, Stellar and Neo to be major players in cryptocurrency space.

How is investment in bitcoin different from get-rich-quick schemes?
When you buy Bitcoin as an investment, you are buying an actual asset, a digital asset. It’s like buying gold, it’s an asset people value and you can sell it later on. For people who view it as an investment, they want to hopefully sell it on at a higher price. Because of this some people may see buying Bitcoin as a get-rich-scheme, but that’s just down to perspective. To get rich in anything you must first understand your asset, your industry and then yourself. If you’re lazy and and cannot be bothered to track the market, don’t have an entry/exit strategy you won’t get rich quick, you’ll more likely lose because everything we do in finance and investments involves knowledge, understanding and strategy. Without these three pillars people who buy any investment, whether it be Bitcoin, stocks, shares, forex, will lose more than they gain.

How will bitcoin help in reducing the number of the underbanked populace?
Well Bitcoin is just one cryptocurrency out of thousands, so who knows. But the technology it runs off, the blockchain is doing some amazing things to help the unbanked around the world. 40% of Nigeria’s population is unbanked, which blocks nearly half of the population from financial economy. Getting financial services like credit facilities and accounts to fully participate in the economy can be easier as with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. All you require is a smartphone and internet to start sending and receiving payments. No I.D required, filling out paperwork, etc. Just a smartphone and internet and one can start sending and receiving payments. Do you know how much this could change things for the people of Nigeria?

Is Nigeria ready for the bitcoin mode of operation?
Possibly, but I think people really need to understand the concept of blockchain and cryptocurrency and move beyond Bitcoin. Bitcoin is just ONE of many cryptocurrencies on the market and the blockchain is what we’re excited about, when people understand the power of the blockchain, they’ll understand why Bitcoin is one of the greatest innovation of the 21st century.

What will become of banks under bitcoin regime?
Banks will still remain as Bitcoin cannot compete with banks right now. Bitcoin can only process three transactions per second, VISA and MasterCard can process 40,000 transactions per second. Bitcoin will not replace the banks because at present they could not handle the transaction rates a traditional bank could. Also banks deal with bigger aspects of finance like international trade, pension funds, development funds, etc. Also with Bitcoin being so volatile, banks and other institutions would not be able purchase with it, as day to day the prices change. So we will still use and need our banks, but I personally see banks and governments creating their own version of cryptocurrencies in the future.

Do you foresee a global single currency or dominance with bitcoin?
No, not at all. This I don’t see happening. I do see Bitcoin as one of many new currencies we’ll use in the future, but not a global single currency. The digital currency I could see becoming a global currency is RevoCoin, especially for interbank trading and international trade. For the everyday user I think people will use a range of cryptocurrencies.

Everyone is skeptical. Are you planning a capacity building to deepen the ideals of bitcoin?
People are skeptical because that is human nature. We are natural cynics and sceptics and rarely trust what we don’t understand. This is why I urge people to truly understand the nature of the industry, asset and also yourself. Why do you want to buy Bitcoin? Is it because you want to be rich or create wealth? If that’s your goal, what do you know about wealth creation and investing? If you don’t understand the foundations of investing, stay away from investing into Bitcoin.

But If you have an interest in learning about investing, finance, economics, or technology then learning about Bitcoin could be a fascinating experience for you. If you’re looking to make quick money and don’t want to invest the time in educating yourself about investing, cryptocurrency and blockchain, then Bitcoin may not be for you. My motto is this ‘Never place your money in something you don’t understand’ so I’ll be holding a seminar this June in Lagos to help people understand Bitcoin better. Hopefully after the seminar more people will deepen their understanding of how Bitcoin and cryptocurrency works.

Are there roles for government in this?
Of course, the government has a duty to its country and people to ensure they are safe and not harmed in anyway. Regulation is needed, but not so much so that it stifles the innovation within the country. We need governments to be clear on the risks and opportunities presented with cryptocurrencies, especially in relationship between how the banks handle and deal with cryptocurrencies and customers who use them.

We can expect to see cryptocurrencies dominate the markets in the future as the confidence in fiat currency like USD, GBP and EURO is rapidly decreasing in the western world. It’s only a matter of time before the people drop fiat and move to something else, so governments needs to pay attention to the market and stay ahead of the game.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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