Bitcoin in Zimbabwe: Importing cars and sending money to family

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Bitcoin (BTC) is a tool of freedom and economic empowerment. For Ovidi, a young Zimbabwean, it changed his life when he returned to his home country at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An entrepreneur who first learned about bitcoin while living in the United States, Ovidy has since built a business with bitcoin. Below, Ovidi (center) is pictured with bitcoin traveler Paco (left):

Ovidy imports cars using bitcoin. “I really like to import BMWs,” he told Cointelegraph, as well as enabling peer-to-peer remittance payments to families of friends in Kenya and abroad. In short, bitcoin makes him optimistic about the future.

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Ovidi told Cointelegraph that he “faced bitcoin when it was around $10,000” during the 2017 bull run. However, he did not invest “because I had no idea about it.”

“I thought one day you can have bitcoin and have $500; the next day you have $1,000 and it goes up and up.”

They piled up a few sets during this period, but it took years of learning and small experiments tinkering with bitcoin – such as using BitPay to pay for clothing on Amazon – before it became a decentralized digital currency. be able to catch up with. However, it was nothing more than a hobby and an experience that was soon forgotten.

Jump into the dark start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and Ovidy was bound to return to Zimbabwe from the United States. In an unfortunate turn of events:

“When I came back to Zimbabwe I had nothing to do. There was no job, so I considered forex (forex) trading.

The Forex account asked him to deposit some bitcoins and Ovidy remembered that he had “bitcoins in an old Coinbase account”. They checked, and to their delight, the $500 they bought during 2017 and 2018 was worth more than $2,000.

One eureka moment, Ovidy immediately realized that he could leverage bitcoin for payments and investments. He could create work, and more importantly, a salary for himself. OVD E-Wallet Transfer Hub was born.

A flyer for Ovidy’s money transfer business. Source: Facebook

He tapped into his network of contacts and started facilitating the import of cars from Japan. From BMW to Toyota to off-the-shelf Honda, his Zimbabwean customers give him dollars, then he sends bitcoin to Japanese car dealerships. Weeks later, the cars arrive. he explained:

“It is impossible for me to send dollars to Japan because the only way to do this is through banks. When something gives me $5,000 in bitcoin, I send the bitcoin to Japan almost immediately, and I already have cash. and the transaction is confirmed. Bitcoin is a fast and secure process.”

He said the process would take more than two weeks and would involve higher commissions if it was done through banks.

related: ‘We don’t like our money’: the story of CFA and bitcoin in Africa

Ovidy charges a small commission on the sale of cars and balances the money it earns with a money transfer service that uses bitcoin remittances in reverse. Since the dollar is in short supply in Zimbabwe, Ovidy receives bitcoins from “Zimbabwean family members” or the families of friends in Kenya or abroad, and sends that dollar to cars in return.

OVD recently imported two cars, all paid for with bitcoin. Source: Ovidi

Ovidi told Cointelegraph that bitcoin adoption in Zimbabwe is on the rise, but it hasn’t been easy. Many people “don’t really trust bitcoin,” and there is an important education gap:

“At first people didn’t appreciate bitcoin because most people who invest get scammed. When I was learning about bitcoin, I too, I was scammed of $500! A confident “investment company” asked me for money, and I didn’t realize it.

He mentioned that the hardest part about bitcoin adoption – especially for older generations – is that it is not tangible. A friend of his, William Chui, built the “Bitcoin House using money from bitcoin” to “prove to people that with bitcoin you can really be financially free.”

Bitcoin House, created by Ovidy’s friend William Chui. Source: Ovidi

While education remains a deterrent in the face of high inflation in the country, he remains hopeful. “We start small and 10 to 15 years from now – and given that younger generations appreciate bitcoin – there will be a significant number of people adopting bitcoin in Zimbabwe.”