Bitcoin is being made accessible to those without internet connection using Machankura, an SMS-based service with the same name as the slang word for money used in South Africa. The app’s creator, Kgothatso Ngako, claims that Africans may now receive and spend Bitcoin without an internet connection because of this new technology.
Ngako notes that Machankura allows people to dial whatever number they choose. The user is then given the option of learning more about Bitcoin or registering an account, for which they must generate a five-digit pin. After all of this, the user can now send and receive Bitcoin.
According to Ngako, the fundamental motivation for developing Machankura was that 94% of financial transactions in Africa take place via USSD, the protocol used to send text messages, with the remaining 6% taking place via mobile apps. Furthermore, because he feels that internet connection is one of the most significant barriers for African communities, the decision to develop an SMS-based solution for accepting and using Bitcoin was simple.
He elaborated,“This year, a lot of conversations in the space were around USSD or making Bitcoin accessible on feature phones – this could be a part-time project – let me just set it up. And that’s basically how Machankura came to be.”
Because of this advancement, wallets that support Lightning can now send Bitcoin to phone numbers using Lightning. Machankura’s approach has already piqued the curiosity of companies such as Bitrefill, Azteco, and Paxful. Each of these networks promotes Bitcoin adoption in Africa in a unique way. The three companies are also brainstorming ways to collaborate.
However, there are several downsides to the current solution. Ngako emphasizes that the service is now custodial, something he wishes to change by investigating ways to make SIM cards work as private keys.