Machankura, a tool created by software developer Kgothatso Ngako, has enabled nearly 3,000 Africans to use Bitcoin without access to the internet. Machankura is a USSD-based app that can be accessed by mobile phone users in African countries by dialing a specific code. The app’s services include sending and receiving Bitcoin, checking balances, and bartering Bitcoin for goods and services on Bitrefill. The tool can even interact with the Lightning Network, a layer-2 payments system that enables instantaneous and virtually free Bitcoin transactions.
Ngako chose a UX solution called The Lightning Address to enable phone users to easily identify lightning addresses for both sending and receiving satoshis. The developer stated that there are now 2,900 people using Machankura across eight countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. This is a ten-fold increase since August. As Bitcoin adoption grows, tools like Machankura could expand to serve an estimated 2.9 billion people on Earth who still lack internet access.
Ngako believes that Machankura could help unbanked individuals by making payment technology accessible to them. Payment technology is very dependent on network effects, and both sender and receiver need to have the ability to send and receive for the payment technology to be adopted.