Now you can virtually buy a meal with bitcoin in Kenya
A pioneering little restaurant in Nyeri accepts cryptocurrencies despite widespread suspicion
About 150km outside Nairobi sits a sign with a bitcoin logo on it. Why is that interesting? Well, similar to seeing a MasterCard or Visa logo, it indicates to customers that payment using bitcoin is allowed at Betty’s Place, in a rural Kenyan town called Nyeri.
The restaurant, butchery and pub, serving goat meat barbeque and other Kenyan food, is similar to others in the area. But unlike her competitors, the owner of Betty’s Place, Beatrice Wambugu, allows her customers to pay with any viable digital currencies, including bitcoin and Dash.
Wambugu told the BBC that she raised the funds to buy the building housing her restaurant within a year through trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. She even calls herself “a cryptocurrency pioneer”.
Wambugu said she wanted to position her restaurant as a global pioneer, even though the world is still in the early stages of adopting cryptocurrencies.
She has made only about $300 in digital currency sales since few people make use of the service yet, but that has not deterred her from encouraging the use of digital currencies. In fact, Wambugu told the BBC that on Sundays she hosts bitcoin trading lessons at her restaurant to encourage the uptake of cryptocurrencies.
Speaking to the BBC, James Preston, the project leader at SA Crypto, said cryptocurrencies are “an opportunity to bank” for those who don’t have access to banking facilities. As shown with M-Pesa, cellphone payments and money transfers are practical tools for many Africans in underdeveloped rural areas.
Although in SA online retailers such as Takealot.com also accept cryptocurrency by transferring currency via EFT through PayFast, worldwide it is still not common to be able to pay for physical goods using digital currencies.
Considering that the value of cryptocurrencies plummeted in September and many countries are unsure how to regulate them, many consider them unstable and are unwilling to adopt them as a form of payment for goods. The Central Bank of Kenya has issued a warning against the use of cryptocurrencies as it is considered a “risky venture”, according to the CryptoCoinsNews.
Nonetheless, Beatrice Wambugu is paving the way to a future we cannot avoid and SA entrepreneurs should be inspired to be pioneers in this new digital age.