There has been a craze for Bitcoin over the last few months with interest in the cryptocurrency being driven higher by the cash crisis in Zimbabwe worsens. There has been a lot of international interest in how much bitcoin trades for in Zimbabwe, premiums reaching as high as 85% here, though, in reality, the money we are using is not really real – it’s all RTGS/transfer.
There are a number of people who have gotten in touch with Techzim wanting to know how they can lay their hands on the digital currency, seeing that most of the banks are no longer allowing one to make online payments with their local VISA and/or MasterCard using bond notes.
It’s not all despair though.
There are ways for Zimbabweans to buy bitcoins and if you’re looking to build your position, depending on how aggressive you are, you could be having a couple of BTC (that’s the acronym for bitcoin) and smiling all the way to the bank!
1. Friends and Family Out the Country
The nation is slowly heading back to the days of 2008, where most of the citizens survived on being sent money from out the country, in order to help and assist. If you know friends and/or family who send money home often then you can ask them to send back that money in the form of BTC.
If they are overseas, get them to open an account on Coinbase.com (get them to sign up through that link and they’ll get $10 free) and go through the whole verification process. If in South Africa, Luno.com will sort them out.
They will need to be in the country legally and have a bank account, in order to fund their account. Once they have bought BTC, you’ll just need to give them your bitcoin address and have them send the money there.
Depending on the agreement you have with them, you’ll then need to pay the person whom they wanted to send the money to here, or pay their bills, (if they were not sending to you). If you can pay this off in RTGS/transfer or EcoCash then you won’t have much stress as opposed if you needed bond or USDs. Your negotiating skills will have to come in.
If you have money in your local bank account, or in EcoCash, one of the best options will be to use the Golix.com exchange. Transfer your funds there, set the amount you want to buy and at what rate, and wait for it to be fulfilled. If you can’t wait, then just buy at the lowest sale price there and you’re done.
Some complain that the transaction fees on Golix are high, but if you’re just looking to hold, I’d suggest you wait until you have bought a bit of BTC before you move the funds to your own wallet.
3. WhatsApp Groups
There are a few WhatsApp Groups that are springing up, where people are connecting and sharing ideas about various issues including cryptocurrencies. If you search on Facebook or Twitter for ‘bitcoin WhatsApp group’ in Zimbabwe, you’ll see a few.
Join them then get to know how things are operating in there first before you announce that you are buying BTC.
Once you find someone who is selling at a rate that you are willing to buy, arrange to meet with them and you do the transaction. They send you the BTC and you give them the money.
Remember, transactions are non-reversible (well the person you send to needs to send back, else if they decide not to, then there is nothing you can do, save for making it a police issue). Make sure you have the right bitcoin address, sending to a wrong address can see them being lost forever!
Prioir to banks cancelling the use of their cards online, I would transact daily, buying BTC or ETH (ether, another type of cryptocurrency). Now that the banks want you either to make prior arrangements with them or to pre-fund your account with USD, buying through CEX at international rates is a possibility.
Some people have complained about being unable to get their accounts verified if you have any challenges, let me know and I’ll see if I can help.
Pre-fund your local VISA/MasterCard with USD’s, then link that card to CEX. They’ll require your valid passport (sadly, they need a document with an expiry date, of which our ID’s and driver’s licence’s don’t have that, so they only accept passports), together with you taking a selfie with it to show that you have possession of it.
Once your account is verified and you have your card linked, all you have to do is fund your USD bank account with money, then deposit it into the exchange. When your funds are reflecting (it takes about 2-3 mins for them to appear, if all is in order), you’re good to go.
5. Online Work
As the internet becomes available everywhere, the possibilities for you to do work for people outside the country, over the internet is increasing. There are many websites where you can do some work for people and they’ll pay you in BTC.
XBTFreelancer is one such. A lot like Fiverr and Freelancer.com, you essentially offer your skills to someone across the world. Once they engage you and are satisfied with the work that you do, they’ll pay in BTC.
You could also make money through blogging for News websites, as the interest around Zimbabwe’s cash crisis increases and people become interested with what’s going on here, you could write about it and be paid per article.
Are you using either of these methods to get your hands on BTC? What methods are you using? Have you had any challenges with what I’ve mentioned above? I’d love to hear and help, if need be.
All the best!