Jay-Z and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey make big Bitcoin bet in Africa and India
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Hip-hop mogul Shawn Carter, popularly known as Jay-Z, and technology executive Jack Dorsey are the latest big-name investors to support widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies, in this case, Bitcoin. The two have partnered to establishment Btrust, pronounced Bitcoin Trust, an endowment that aims to increase the development and use of Bitcoin in Africa and India.
Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter, tweeted earlier this month that he and Carter are investing 500 Bitcoin into a blind trust that will be initially managed by three board members. His tweet also linked to an application to the BTrust board.
“JAY-Z/@S_C_ and I are giving 500 BTC to a new endowment named Btrust to fund #Bitcoin development, initially focused on teams in Africa & India,” tweeted Dorsey. Jay-Z offered no statement on the partnership via Twitter, his account has not been active since 2018.
Late Saturday night, Dorsey provided an update on the fund via Twitter, announcing that more than 6,600 potential board members had already applied. He also shared his plans to begin interviewing candidates soon, saying efforts are already underway to screen the applicant pool.
Bitcoin’s value has seen a tremendous rally over the last 12 months. In march of 2020, Bitcoin dipped to $5,000 per coin. Today, a single Bitcoin is worth $56,212, bringing the value of the BTrust to more than $27M.
The establishment of the BTrust endowment comes on the heels of government-led cryptocurrency bans in both Nigeria and India. Because cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, are decentralized and can be exchanged directly between currency holders, there is no need for an intermediary of any kind. Since third-party regulation is difficult, many governments have sought to stymie the proliferation of digital currencies and the exchanges that support them.
During the first week of February, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued a memo to banks across the country ordering them to shut down accounts associated with cryptocurrencies. Nigerian officials have described cryptocurrencies as dangerous and cited their use in criminal transactions in justifications for the ban. Nigerian citizens have been increasingly turning to trading and investing in crypto as an alternative to the naira, Nigeria’s often fluctuating national currency.
The Indian government is currently considering its own ban on cryptocurrencies. The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill has already been introduced in the country’s parliament and will, according to the bill, “prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India.” The legislation also provides for the establishment of a state-controlled cryptocurrency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.
The Btrust partnership will most certainly be working in both countries to steer government and civilian use toward Bitcoin.
Over the last several months, an increasing number of influential individuals and business have played a significant role in boosting cryptocurrency valuations. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently invested $1.5 billion in the digital currency, sending its value soaring. Tesla subsequently announced that the electric vehicle maker will begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for its cars.
Banks and financial service providers are also gradually adopting digital currencies. Earlier this month, Mastercard announced its plans to include a select group of cryptocurrencies in its product and service offerings for 2021, allowing merchants to accept cryptocurrencies on the Mastercard network.
Last October, Jack Dorsey’s mobile payment processing company, Square, purchased 4,709 Bitcoin, worth $50 million at that time. Within five months, Square’s investment has ballooned to over $260 million in value. Dorsey has called Bitcoin "a long-term path towards greater financial access for all,” and embraces the digital currency as the currency of the internet.