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Rapper Jay-Z, Twitter founder back bitcoin in Africa

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US rap mogul Jay-Z and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have announced they are investing a chunk of their own money into bitcoin development in Africa and India.

Mr Dorsey says they are putting a total of 500 bitcoin, worth around $23.6m (Ksh2.5bn), in the endowment fund called Trust.

Nigeria is second only to the US when it comes to the amount of bitcoin traded over the past five years.

In Africa’s commercial hubs like Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg, a growing number of people are finding that cryptocurrencies offer a cheaper solution to the expensive problem of transferring funds across borders.

A job description for Trust’s board members says that the organization’s mission is to “make bitcoin the internet’s currency.”

Bitcoin has been in Dorsey’s portfolio for a while. His other company, Square, bought 4,709 bitcoins in October 2020, equal to $50 million at the time.

In 2018, Square expanded its mobile payment service Cash App to support bitcoin trading, even for users without a bank account. And in 2019 it launched Square Crypto, which awards grants to bitcoin developers and designers.

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This past week, a Twitter executive said in an interview that the company is reviewing other new uses of the digital currency, including employee pay.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin, often described as a cryptocurrency, a virtual currency or a digital currency – is a type of money that is completely virtual.

It’s like an online version of cash. You can use it to buy products and services, but not many shops accept Bitcoin yet and some countries have banned it altogether.

However, some companies are beginning to buy into its growing influence.

In October last year, for example, the online payment service, PayPal, announced that it would be allowing its customers to buy and sell Bitcoin.

The physical Bitcoins you see in photos are a novelty. They would be worthless without the private codes printed inside them.

One Bitcoin is equivalent to Ksh 5,325,045.

-Additional Reporting by the BBC

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