Bitcoin’s rise in African markets is driven by an old Russian ponzi scheme
“Welcome to the System! Together we will change the world!”
These are the words I found scrawled at the bottom of a web page, right next to a picture of Sergei Mavrodi, a convicted Russian fraudster infamous for operating Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox (or MMM), one of the world’s largest ponzi schemes.
Two decades after MMM was shut down, the organization reemerged under new branding, as a technology-driven “financial mutual-aid network” that uses Bitcoin to provide its members up to 100% returns on their contributions. If MMM’s participation numbers are to be believed—they claim to have over 200 million participants—they may be one of the biggest drivers of Bitcoin adoption in the world today, especially in low-income areas.
Cryptocurrency experts have touted the potential for their tech to transform the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations: refugees, the unbanked, those living on less than a dollar a day. Yet the story of Bitcoin’s social impact is more complicated than the headlines portray.
Photo courtesy of Christian Ditaputratama.