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How Bitcoin powered the largest Nigerian protests in a generation

What is #EndSARS?

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria’s #EndSARS campaign are using Bitcoin to fuel their movement. The campaign began as a hashtag on social media to protest Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Many Nigerians have argued that SARS, an extension of the country’s police force, is guilty of widespread abuse of power.

What began on social media soon snowballed into a powerful mass movement, with Nigerians taking to the streets in peaceful protests to demand change. Donations poured in from across the globe to support their efforts. Many citizen-led bodies collected money to sponsor food, water, and medical supplies for protesters.

Where did Bitcoin come in?

One among these was Feminist Coalition, a newly-formed organisation at the forefront of fundraising for protesters. Its members are young Nigerians fighting for gender equality, and call themselves ‘merchants of hope’. As of October 16, Cointelegraph reports, it had collected almost ₹1,40,00,000. But when traditional payment platforms closed their accounts, a problem emerged.

That’s when they turned to Bitcoin. Not only did it prove to be the most secure method to raise money, it was the perfect choice because Bitcoin doesn’t discriminate. Because of radical decentralisation, no one country or corporation can call the shots.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was among the thousands of supporters from across the globe who donated to the movement with Bitcoin. Since adding the Bitcoin donation option on Oct. 14, the coalition has amassed roughly 3.14 BTC (~$36,000).

Over the past decade, bitcoin has become the world’s most prominent cryptocurrency used both as a medium of exchange and storage of value. While bitcoin’s adoption has happened much faster in Europe and North America, it has also been gaining more traction across Africa as users on the continent increasingly adopt it to get around the difficulties of international transactions including digital payments.

After the Nigerian government announced a countrywide curfew, Feminist Coalition in a statement said it would stop accepting donations. They are now using the remaining funds raised to support victims of police brutality in Nigeria.

At ZebPay, our mission has always been to use Bitcoin to spearhead social change. Our CMO, Vikram Rangala, recently gave a talk explaining how Bitcoin is a form of satyagraha. The #EndSARS campaign mobilised people worldwide to fight injustice using a powerful weapon of non-violence: Bitcoin.

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