Tech Trends Zambia: Anita Posch, please introduce yourself
Anita Posch: I’m a Bitcoin advocate, author, public speaker and educator. Five years ago, I came across Bitcoin. I was working on the fields of web design and e-commerce before and I heard in a talk about Bitcoin and open blockchains and the power it has to enable people’s financial empowerment all over the world.
And I was so fascinated by the idea and the possibilities that Bitcoin can bring. Therefore, I started to work in this space. I wrote a book about Bitcoin, a beginner’s book. It’s called (L)earn Bitcoin. I believe Bitcoin offers greater possibilities for people in emerging countries where a lot of people are excluded from the traditional banking system by giving them more power through access to a global financial network. I started a Bitcoin-only podcast in 2018, The Anita Posch Show, which is an English-speaking podcast where I’m talking with Bitcoin innovators, users, thought leaders, etc.
The podcast has over 150 episodes now and you can really listen through the evolution of how I was learning. And I think also the listeners can learn by listening to the various episodes. My Bitcoin education work has brought me to many countries. Last year I was in El Salvador, the first country in the world that made Bitcoin legal tender. I was speaking at conferences there as I did at the University of Zambia on March 5th and September 30th, 2022. That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m not selling anything, I’m sharing my Bitcoin knowledge with people all over the world.
Techtrends Zambia: All right, amazing. So give us a little bit more detail of the activities that you’re gonna be doing even as you are here in Zambia. You mentioned that this is your second time traveling to Zambia.
Anita Posch: The history of that started two years ago, when I visited Zimbabwe for the first time because in the Bitcoin space, we are talking a lot about inflation. How the monetary system all over the world in every country is inflating its monetary supply and therefore, the value of the money goes down and you can see this especially in two countries: Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Everybody in the Bitcoin space is talking about how Bitcoin could be a solution for the people there.
I happen to have a very good friend who’s living in Zimbabwe and then I thought nobody from the people I know, ever went to Zimbabwe to look at the situation, if people really use Bitcoin. Is it usable there? And so I went two years ago and I had very interesting findings.
I mean, the situation here in African countries is so different to Europe or the US. I think it needs people like me who are a little bit like the connection, building a bridge between African countries and Europe and the US. People from the North in general know very little about life in Africa, however, they tend to tell people here how they should solve their problems. That’s not my way to do things. I come here, because I want to learn from you and with you.
So I came here in March, 2022 and did a (L)earn Bitcoin talk at the University of Zambia on March 5th. We also organized a workshop for 10 people at the BongoHive where I showed them how you can use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, which is a very fast possibility to do global borderless payments, very cheap. In addition, we set up Bitcoin wallets and I shared my knowledge about how you can securely store your Bitcoin because I guess you may have heard about people losing their Bitcoin or getting scammed and things like that.
I came back in September 2022. This time, I spoke at the Forum for Internet Freedom 2022, participated in a Bitcoin meetup in Lusaka, facilitated a Bitcoin Workshop for Journalists, gave a Bitcoin talk to 30 University of Zambia students from the department of Mathematics, and gave interviews to Zambian print and electronic media houses. Moreover, through my non profit organisation, Bitcoin for Fairness (BFF), I donated Trezor Bitcoin hardware and RaspiBlitz, a Lightning node device, to establish the first ever Bitcoin Lightning node in Zambia. A Lightning node is a software that facilitates faster and cheaper Bitcoin transactions.
Techtrends Zambia: What really is Bitcoin?
Anita Posch: Bitcoin is the people’s money. It’s like cash in your pocket, but digital. It has almost the same properties. If you hold Bitcoin, nobody can take it away from you. It’s yours. If you spend it, nobody can monitor your transactions, so it has privacy protection, which is a human right.
In many countries around the world people don’t have privacy or free speech. But Bitcoin can give you that because money that you spend on things is giving the things value. It’s an expression of things you like. It’s your opinion, so money you spend is speech in a way.
Therefore, Bitcoin is very important, it’s native internet money. The big innovation that Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown founder of Bitcoin introduced, was that with Bitcoin you don’t need banks to send money over the internet. Up until now you needed banks because think of a PDF, you can copy a PDF, a hundred times and so one PDF doesn’t have a value, it’s not scarce. If you could send the same Bitcoin to several recipients, then the money wouldn’t have any value. Satoshi Nakamoto solved this problem with the Bitcoin blockchain. We don’t need banks anymore, nonetheless the transactions and the network are absolutely secure. That is the great innovation that Bitcoin introduced in 2008.
It’s digital cash and it has a limitation. There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin, which means there is no inflation, nobody can make more out of it. It’s not controlled by the government or by a company. Everyone who is using it, is a part of this open network..
Techtrends Zambia: What are some of the advantages of Bitcoin? What are some of the things that you would say are positive when it comes to trading?
Anita Posch: I don’t speak about Bitcoin trading. Trading is not something a lay person should do. It’s a profession, regular people are getting ripped off by professional traders. I’m more interested in the possibility of sending money globally almost for free and instantly. Bitcoin enables access to saving and sending money for two billion people worldwide, who are unbanked because they don’t have an ID or they are too poor and not interesting to banks.
That’s also why I named my initiative “Bitcoin for Fairness” because I think Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency and money that allows anyone regardless of wealth, status, color or gender to use it and that for free. You can’t join Bitcoin, you just use it. It’s not a club, you don’t have to ask anyone to use it. That’s one big advantage to the current system.
The second advantage is the limited supply of 21 million bitcoin, which means that you can’t have monetary inflation that you can see in countries like Venezuela and Zimbabwe with a thousand percent a year.
In Zambia there was an inflation of 23% last year. If you had to pay 100 kwacha for a product at the beginning of 2021 you had to pay 123 kwacha for the same product at the end of the year. This is something that Bitcoin doesn’t do. The amount of Bitcoin can not be changed. Nobody can print bitcoin. Yes, it is volatile. The price is changing all the time. That’s why you shouldn’t think short-term. You should always think long-term with Bitcoin. If it’s possible that you save a little bit of money, I know people have to spend a lot of money, for living, for their apartment and things like that, but if you can save a little bit then save it at least for five years and don’t use it.
And in the five years from now it will most probably have gained value. I don’t make promises that’s also a difference to Bitcoin scams. Bitcoin scammers make promises about profit, I don’t. But if you just look at the development of the price from 2009 to now – in 2009 a handful of people used Bitcoin, so it was worth nothing and now the value is around 20,000 US dollars for one bitcoin, because so many people see the advantages of it and are using it. That’s why the price goes up. The more people who want to use bitcoin, the price goes up. If less people use it, the price goes down. The price is found via supply and demand on an open market.
Another advantage is that it’s transparent. If a government or companies are using it as money you can see where it has been spent so that you could stop corruption. It’s built on consensus. There is no government, no company, no leader behind. No one can say, I’m going to change the rules now. It’s not possible. Bitcoin has rules without rulers. That’s the fantastic thing, because the rules are baked into the software which is open source. That means, every developer worldwide can read the code and can see what is written there. Bitcoin has it’s own law written in code, therefore this law doesn’t have to be enforced by humans.
You can’t corrupt Bitcoin. The only changes that can happen, can only happen if everyone is in consensus. That’s also a great thing that we don’t have in all other money systems. It’s decentralized, which is another advantage. You hear of all these centralized companies like Facebook or also computer networks by governments and organizations, which get hacked, because they are centralized services, but Bitcoin is decentralized. Meaning the Bitcoin blockchain, which is a database carrying all transactions since the start of Bitcoin, is stored synchronised on over a hundred thousand computers worldwide. Everyone has the same set of data and all those computers validate the transactions and have an oversight that everything is going the right way. If you would be able to hack one of these computers it doesn’t matter because there are a hundred thousand others which have an exact copy of the data.
So there are a lot of advantages in using Bitcoin. Bitcoin can’t be seized from you. It is a store of value similar to gold, but it’s better, because it can’t be forged like gold, it can’t be smuggled like gold from the country’s mines, because the blockchain is transparent. But you can beam Bitcoin around the world – try to send gold via the internet! Bitcoin is the Internet of Money.
Techtrends Zambia: So how does one acquire Bitcoin?
Anita Posch: In my opinion the best way is to earn it, you can work for it. You could offer a digital product on the internet and let people pay in bitcoin. You don’t need PayPal or Visa or any other payment provider, receiving bitcoin comes without costs. With bitcoin people can send you money from all over the world.
Another way to acquire it is asking for donations, if you’re an NGO or something like that. You can also buy or exchange it on a so-called exchange. For instance, the first official exchange with an office here in Lusaka is Yellow card. You can take your kwacha, and buy Bitcoin on the Yellow Card platform then you transfer the bitcoin into your Bitcoin wallet such as Blue Wallet or Muun Wallet. It’s actually not very difficult. You could also use an international exchange like okcoin.com or Paxful.com.
There’s another great possibility called Bitcoin vouchers, issued by a company that’s called Azte.co. For instance, if you live in South Africa, or in the UK, you can send Bitcoin to your family or friends in Zambia. They buy Azteco vouchers with cash in a local store in the UK, or in South Africa. Then they send you the code of the voucher. Then you redeem the bitcoin with the voucher code on the Azteco website and send it to your bitcoin wallet. That’s really, very easy.
Techtrends Zambia: If I want to acquire Bitcoin but I don’t have a lot of money, how do I go about it?
Anita Posch: Many people think that because the price of one bitcoin is above 20,000 US dollars, that they can’t buy bitcoin, because it’s much too expensive, but you can buy or earn a fraction of a Bitcoin. You can buy as little as 10 Kwacha or less, so it’s usable for everybody even if you don’t have a lot of money.
Techtrends Zambia: When you mention something that’s related to money, obviously people think there is a risk to it. So how does one detect a scam when it comes to Bitcoin?
Anita Posch: What I learned here is that a lot of people relate Bitcoin to scams because a lot of people have been scammed which is very sad. Bitcoin is a technology and whenever there is some money to be made, there are people who want to rip off other people. That’s very sad, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Bitcoin because Bitcoin is a technology like the internet. You can use it for good things, but you can rip people off with it too and just recently, I read in a Zambian newspaper that 200 people were scammed out of their kwacha and they were promised a return of a hundred percent in a few months.
These are the things, where you can detect scams: if people try to convince you to buy a starter package, they will ask you to bring the money of your friends and family and tell you, you will make a hundred percent revenue in three months. This is not possible. You can’t get rich quick. These are all made up stories. They pressure you saying you have to join now otherwise you’ll be left out. You can not join Bitcoin. It’s an internet protocol that is open and permissionless to use without gatekeepers.
The main thing is to understand that you can’t get rich quick and you need to think long-term and hold your money. Don’t spend it on things that you actually don’t need. Exchange it for a little bit of bitcoin and save. In five years, you will be able to buy more of the things you want.
Techtrends Zambia: With all this explanation, would you say Bitcoin is credible?
Anita Posch: I have been looking into this technology for over five years. Whenever I see people who have gotten scammed then they were presented with a lie like you can make 100% profit or you had to buy a starter package. Bitcoin is a technology, not a scam. It’s the most secure internet network in the world.
I want to add that Bitcoin is especially important for women and people who are less privileged. Women still earn less than men everywhere across the globe. For them it is especially interesting to look into it and maybe save a little bit of your money in bitcoin and hold it for the long-term. You can also hide your bitcoin wallet on your phone. Nobody has to know that you have this money. Your husband can’t take it away from you. I think Bitcoin is a very important tool and that’s why I called my initiative “Bitcoin for Fairness” because I think it can bring advantages to those groups and people in emerging countries who don’t have the same chances as we in the Western countries have.
Somebody said to me, if people in Africa would start to use bitcoin earlier than the people in Western countries it could give them a financial advantage, it would be historic reparation. You should embrace it, learn about it and start using it. There are programs looking for young African developers and designers where you can apply and you get a stipend and you can then learn how to develop Bitcoin and become a professional developer in that space.
There are a lot of possibilities for your job in the future. And I think it’s especially important for young people to embrace it, to learn and educate, and then if you have the feeling that you can handle it, start earning it. Build a business idea around it. It’s the future.
Techtrends Zambia: Tell us a bit about your non-profit organisation, Bitcoin for Fairness?
Anita Posch: Bitcoin for Fairness is an initiative that wants to bring Bitcoin education, knowledge and tools to emerging countries – to the 4.2 billion people who are excluded from the financial system, who are living under authoritarian rulers, where they very often don’t enjoy the same human rights as other people too.
It’s the goal of the Bitcoin for Fairness initiative to spread the knowledge about Bitcoin to empower people. I have one example for this, the Nigerian Feminist Coalition. During the #EndSARS protest movement against police brutality in Nigeria the Central Bank banned the Nigerian Feminist Coalition from using the traditional financial infrastructure to collect donations, and shut down their bank account. They started using Bitcoin and received donations from all around the world and nobody could stop them. They were able to keep on protesting and supporting their peers. You can listen to my interview with the two co-founders of the Nigerian Feminist Coalition here.
Other groups we’d like to share our knowledge with are civil and queer rights activists. I’m planning to go to Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and to Venezuela, maybe Brazil and Argentina this year.