Bitcoin and police brutality are two words you wouldn't expect to see next to each other.
Even the most ardent crypto enthusiast could not have predicted that Bitcoin (BTC) would become the centre of conversations in protests against police brutality. It wasn't meant to happen.
The Feminist Coalition has been one of the leading voices in the EndSARS protests— helping with raising funds and organizing protests across the country. The group primarily raised money using traditional bank accounts and a Flutterwave link. Bitcoin donations were also available via Sendcash but they were not the main focus as most of the donors are based in Nigeria. Some dollar donations were also made through Cash App:
Just to clarify you can still donate after 11pm today! I will be donating once or twice a day. Thank you all for your help! #EndSarsNow— Angie #EndSARS (@AngEverAfter) October 9, 2020
It was going according to plan until the morning of Tuesday, October 13, when the Flutterwave link used for donating to the Feminist Coalition went dead. At the same time, the group raised concerns about restrictions on their bank accounts. Immediate suspicion of government action to financially muzzle protesters filled social media spaces.
Moves to create alternate funding routes became a priority and the first option was Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency in general, has individual freedom at the centre of its innovation, so it shouldn't have been much of a surprise.
The emergence of bitcoin as the preferred means of donation led to a spike in Twitter mentions. The cryptocurrency broke into the top ten of Twitter's regional trend table later that day with over 142k tweets.
Usership of Bitcoin in Nigeria has been steadily growing since its entrance in 2016. The country's young population, in a bid to beat the constant inflation of the Naira, are increasingly using bitcoin for transactions.
The growth in use is evidenced by the many bitcoin exchange platforms that have sprung up in the country. These platforms mostly make use of peer-to-peer (p2p) transactions to allow users buy and sell bitcoin in Nigeria.
According to Q2 2020 reports from Usefultulips which were cited in Nairametrics, Nigeria leads Africa in p2p transactional trades. The value of p2p BTC transactions in Nigeria are more than double those of second-placed country — South Africa.
In addition, Bitcoin is built to be censorship resistant. Users can hold or sell whenever they want without third-party authorisation or interference. It has proven immensely helpful for users that perform international transactions, whether they're paying or receiving. As expected, it also proved efficient in opening up donation lines again.
Jack's helping hand
Things got even better when Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter, waded into the EndSARS protests by tweeting about it. In a short thread giving publicity to the ongoing protest, Jack referred to the BTC address of the Feminist coalition as the place to make donations.
That mention sparked an influx of visitors to the organization's website alongside a spike in donations. The website even went down temporarily due to the traffic from Jack's tweets.
Three days later, the Flutterwave link is still out of commission and more bank accounts linked to protests are allegedly being shut down. The Feminist Coalition has also moved to exclusively using bitcoin for all its donations.
We're moving to only accepting donations in Bitcoin using BTC Pay. BTC Pay is a free, secure, decentralized and censorship-resistant platform, which makes it our best option, given the past few days #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria— feministcoalition (@feminist_co) October 15, 2020
Please donate here: https://t.co/FvsEKetUL9
According to their most recent progress report, the organization has raised 1.28827988 BTC (~N6.670m) — the highest amount raised in any currency apart from Naira.
The fight for an end to police brutality is creating two winners – young people waking up to their rights, and the blockchain economy which is an embodiment of the change they're fighting for.