When Nhial Majok discovered bitcoin, he started a company that hopes to break down economic barriers across the developing world.
We met up with Nhial at The Hub, a vibrant collaborative community space in Melbourne CBD. Located in the landmark Donkey Wheel House building, Hub’s two floors are filled with creatives surrounded by lush plants and colourful walls. A remarkable restoration and one of Melbourne’s finest creative spaces.
Nhial hails from East Africa and has been working in IT for the past 8 years. He is a regular at bitcoin meetups and we all know him well at CoinJar. He is someone that has made a name for himself in Australia and works tirelessly to improve quality of life back home.
Nhial believes in bitcoin as a way to move value around the world. Because of this he has founded TagPesa, a company dedicated to using the lower costs of bitcoin to help send money home.
He smiles widely when reminiscing about the first time he used bitcoin. When he first tested it, what struck him was how fast and simple it was. He said he’d heard about bitcoin being complicated, but for a tech guy everything was just easy.
“I never thought one year down the line I’d be this excited about bitcoin. Since then I’ve been paying attention and reading up about it, learning what everyone’s doing with bitcoin. I think it’s a great idea.”
When Nhial talks about his passions, his enthusiasm for bitcoin becomes obvious. As someone that sends money to his family back home, he understands better than anyone the power of moving money quickly and cheaply. You can see the excitement in Nhial’s eyes when he talks about the ability for market places to improve the quality of life back home. Where he is from, people miss out on the benefits of digital cash and this limits their ability to trade and deal.
His brow furrows as he starts to talk about the hurdles of sending money home. Currently, when receiving 100 dollars, 10% of that goes into transaction fees. The money lost to fees could feed a family for up to a week. “These savings mean that bitcoin can have a massive impact on these communities. Bitcoin allows people to access these benefits without the massive initial investments or infrastructure.
“TagPesa will make it easier for most Africans, in East Africa especially, to become comfortable with the idea of bitcoin. We offer bitcoin trading and selling services but we encourage customers to use it for remittance. Then, we can trade it back to the local currency.”
Currently, when receiving 100 dollars, 10% of that goes into transaction fees. The money lost to fees could feed a family for up to a week.
He acknowledges that bitcoin might not change the world today. But in 3 to 5 years, he imagines that local currency traders will utilise bitcoin as casually as anything else. His smile belies his passion; you can see that in his eyes bitcoin is nearly there, the rest of the world just needs to catch up.
East Africa is an economy where more than half the population transacts using mobile phones. Nhial’s vision for the future might not be that far away.