How are over 2,900 Africans using Bitcoin, which is largely referred to as “the internet of money,” without actually having to access the internet? Developer Kgothatso Ngako has the answer to that.
The software engineer has built a tool called Machankura to help Africans without access to the internet use the largest and oldest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. So crypto users in African countries no longer need smartphones or computers. Just a feature phone is enough.
In a recent interview, Ngako said he set up a raspberry pi last year, running on a Lightning and a Bitcoin node. And as he tried to figure out what he could build on top of it, a USSD project became intriguing since several Bitcoiners in Africa were already planning on developing wallet compatibility with feature phones.
USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a protocol utilized by telecommunication companies to send short text messages. It functions similarly to IVR (Interactive Voice Response), where a mobile network operator asks you to press certain numbers to access a particular service.
How Machankura Works
With Machankura, feature phone users in Africa can access the platform by dialing a certain code which varies from country to country. Once you are on the platform, you will be able to use services like sending or receiving BTC, checking your balance, and making payments for goods and services.
Moreover, Machankura interacts with a layer-2 payment system called Lightning Network, which enables instant and virtually free BTC transactions. On top of that, the platform adopts The Lightning Address, a UX solution that assists phone users in identifying lightning addresses for receiving and sending satoshis quickly.
Machankura Set to Launch in More Countries This Year
Ngako reports that over 2,900 people are using Machankura. The platform is currently operational in eight African countries, including Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ghana. The developer plans to expand his product into more territories this year.
Ngako’s goal is to help over 2.8 million people in the world who still do not have access to the internet, to start using Bitcoin.