Is Blockchain the same as Bitcoin, and is M-PESA Bitcoin?

September 21, 2020

You have probably heard of Bitcoin, but the more you try to understand it, the more confusing it gets. Our Convener, Alex Muriu recently hosted Amos Mburu, Blockchain researcher and Founder of DLBRT on Unthinkable Coffee Break, where they broke down Bitcoin in its simplest terms.

Bitcoin is the first successful and most known Blockchain system to date. One bitcoin is currently worth Kshs 1.23 Million! If you have been following the articles in this series, by now you know what Blockchain is. Bitcoin is a digital and global money system developed on Blockchain technology. It allows people to send or receive money across the internet, even to someone they don’t know or don’t trust. Money can be exchanged without being linked to a real identity.

There are two ways to get Bitcoins. You can convert your physical cash into Bitcoin by purchasing some on what are known as Bitcoin exchanges. Alternatively, you can earn Bitcoins by using your Computer(s) to do something called Mining, which is basically solving some pretty complex computations which help enhance the underlying ledger that holds records of all Bitcoin transactions. Mining is how the Bitcoin network is maintained as there’s no single ‘manager’ of this network.

Now, let’s compare Bitcoin to what we commonly use every day, M-PESA. M-PESA is almost like digital cash where Safaricom maintains M-PESA accounts and movements of money using their communication equipment, which sort of sounds like Bitcoin right?

BITCOIN ( E-Cash) vs MPESA (E-Money)

  • Bitcoin is actual currency, like shillings or dollars, while M-PESA is simply a channel for money (Kenya shillings) to move from one person to another digitally.
  • Bitcoin network is maintained by various computers connected on the internet, while Safaricom centrally manages M-PESA System.
  • Bitcoin network security is maintained by math algorithms and computing power, while Safaricom handles the security of money movements on M-PESA.
  • Bitcoin has no customer care for its users; hence you are expected to use the system with full knowledge and understanding, while Safaricom has a customer care to handle M-PESA Issues.

Amos Mburu was a guest on Un.thinkable Coffee break, our monthly talk show on future skills which are changing the world as we know it.

Watch the video recording below

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