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Protestors of ‘End SARS protests’ are using Bitcoin as a safeguard

Photo of: Dennis Ramos
by Dennis Ramos

We have already heard how Bitcoin is proving to be the financial lifeline in many countries which is ridden with poor economic indicators. When the first Economic package in the US was rolled out, people took to Bitcoin with the objective that it would prove to be a hedge against inflation. 

Nigeria presents a case again which has embraced bitcoin in its times of crisis. Considered to be an oil-rich nation yet having record-breaking poverty rates, Nigeria is going through a tough phase of police brutality cases. People of Nigeria have come together to take this head-on and are protesting against the brutality of the police. A group of protestors on the turf are now relying on Bitcoin as a financial respite in these stormy and violent times. 

Source: Twitter

The Feminist Coalition’s bank account was bolted this month after an involvement in the ‘End SARS protests’ was actually discovered. This was brought to light by one of the persons who was familiar yet was not connected to the group. The person was identified under the pseudonym Emma. The movement was initiated in Nigeria in order to strongly revoke and eliminate the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which is a division of the Police department and has a poor track record of harassing citizens. 

In order to take the protests forward, the Feminist Coalition has now taken a step ahead and is raising donations in Bitcoin. As per the latest reports, the coalition has already collected a total of 69,891,637.15 nairas. Out of the total collected amount equivalent to $40,000 has been deployed in order to support 128 protests across the country.

Flutterwave, the payments platform had apparently shut off the protests after which they found refuge in other alternatives. Emma said: 

“Quite a few members of the group work in tech, so they made the decision to use bitcoin as another payment option.”

Instead, they started using the SendCash platform which converted bitcoin payments into Naira. It then deposited the funds back into the receives account localized in Nigeria. The new service SendCash was found to be extremely useful and had an intuitive interface. Yet, it also had some attached risks, which was the risk of being discovered and figured out by banks which will lead to shutting down of accounts. 

With that fear in mind, the coalition has stopped using this, and instead, they have started using the BTCPay Server. Emma believes that this is a much safer wallet as compared to other options. The facility operates sideways to the banking system and is censorship-resistant. 

“I would say BTCPay is important because it protects the privacy of donors and prevents the government from easily figuring out what service the protestors are using to cash out their bitcoin into naira.”

Nigerians are not very new to Bitcoin as it allows them to move their money without coming under the negative auspices of the financial system. More relevant use of Bitcoin is during this time because it helps in police shakedowns for cash. The Nigerian government is also planning to come up with Naira’s digital version.