As a Nigerian, there’s a random possibility your life is affected by one of these two assets – Crude oil and Bitcoin – hence the thought-provoking question.
From a national standpoint, the Nigerian economy is heavily influenced by oil prices, which is a determinant of oil revenue that finances the country you live in.
And from a retail standpoint, your investment portfolio is exposed to cryptocurrency which is influenced by Bitcoin – the Digital Gold that has an asymmetric impact on altcoins both in the short-run and in the long run.
One of the ironies you would observe in the past months from Nigerian social media (which would stand as secondary data in this discourse) is that Nigerians are more delighted at Bitcoin price rallies than Oil price rallies.
A particular hypothesis for this occurrence is that Nigerians have resorted to fending for themselves as there seems to be a disconnect between Nigeria’s oil revenue and her citizens’ standard of living – although on a macro-level this assertion can be debated.
The paradox of this observation is that despite the Nigerian government’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies, a fair number of Nigerians still lean on Satoshi Nakamoto’s innovation as an investment vehicle to grow their wealth.
Retail investors in Nigeria have migrated from treasury bills to saving in dollars to cryptocurrency investments as they seek alpha over inflation.
$400 million worth of BTC has been transacted in the last 365 days on LocalBitcoins and Paxful (peer-to-peer platforms), 11 million Nigerians have a Binance account, and a new cryptocurrency exchange, Bybit is penetrating the Nigerian market offering thousands of dollars in bonuses for new clients as mass adoption for cryptocurrency widens in the West African nation.
Last week, Clem Agba, the Nigerian Minister of State for Budget and National planning, called for a more relaxed regulation on cryptocurrencies that will give citizens and the government a chance to maximise opportunities from the digital asset.
“A significant percentage of Nigerians are not particularly knowledgeable or interested in tracking Brent crude contracts, the leading global crude oil benchmark that produces a major revenue to Africa’s largest economy, but interaction with a substantial number of young Nigerians and data collated from Google trends show they are more concerned about monitoring crypto-assets,” said Olumide Adesina, a socio-economic analyst at Quantum Economics when asked which of these asset prices Nigerians monitor.
However, Oil has been Nigeria’s support system since its discovery in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State.
Now, $100 oil has been the Holy Mecca for Nigeria’s most prized commodity. The last time Oil reached that price was in 2014. According to CBN Statistical Bulletin, the Federal Government raked in 6.79 trillion naira in that year from Oil proceeds.
Oil revenue helps in debt servicing, foreign exchange liquidity, and payment of government workers’ salaries. The country is very sensitive to oil prices and both labour and teacher unions monitor Oil prices so they can know when to demand an increase in wages.
So, without having vested interests or personal agenda, how many Nigerians care about the price of oil today?
You would have to stretch back to April 2020, when prices reached negative digits and the Central Bank entered full foreign exchange management mode where Nigerians prayed for higher oil prices.
Furthermore, I spoke to Chimauche Njoku (Tech Lead) and Emmanuel Dan-Awoh (SEO Specialist) at Nairametrics, a leading Nigerian financial media house, about what stories drive the most traffic between oil and cryptocurrency. “Cryptocurrency” was the unanimous answer. To contextualise this, we compared the number of views on two separate articles written within the same period.
- “Oil prices rise as concerns over Omicron Covid-19 variant softens” – 662 page views
- “Red Saturday: 375,113 investors lose $ 2.33 billion trading crypto, bitcoin dips to $44,000” – 2771 page views.
However, demographics might taint the overwhelming cryptocurrency narrative. With respect to age – majority of Gen Zs (9–24-year-olds) and Millennials (25–40-year-olds) who have touted “Tech as the new Oil” would pick $100,000 Bitcoin while majority of Gen X (41-56) and Boomers (57 – 66) would lean towards $100 Oil as concepts such as decentralisation, distributed ledgers and outlandish gas/network fees can befuddle them.
If we go a step further and come out of the bubble of social media and look at all class strata, we might begin to see the bigger picture in favour of $100 oil to $100,000 Bitcoin, as most Nigerians depend on the government to make their life better and provide infrastructure for them. But with the government’s plan to remove subsidies, market-determination will push higher Crude oil prices to result in higher fuel prices at domestic filling stations. This development might weigh on Nigerians not opting for $100 oil.
So, when did Bitcoin enter the Nigerian conversation?
The truth is most Nigerians FOMO’d into Bitcoin. FOMO, which means “fear of missing out” explains how investors jump on assets during rally periods so they won’t miss out on gains of the asset. The exposure of Nigerians to Bitcoin possibly piqued in late 2020/early 2021 as the speculative asset saw a meteoric rise from $10,000 to it’s all time high of $69,000 – although along the way, there was a 50% correction, where phrases like “buy the dip” showed investors’ resolve to profit from Bitcoin’s upside.
Now, which will get there first – Bitcoin to $100,000 or Oil to $100?
First, what influences Bitcoin’s price? Scarcity, mainstream adoption, regulation and mining cycles. At the beginning of Q4, 2021, a majority of the market expected Bitcoin to reach $100,000 before 2021 ends. However, we might have seen the all-time high for now, and the current correction has returned bearish sentiments. Fundamentals such as the dollar strengthening, inflation, and appeal in relatively less risky assets like equities have dampened Bitcoin’s $100,000 prospects.
Oil, on the other hand, which is influenced by supply, demand and financial markets’ hedging, keeps retreating from the high $80 region as fundamentals such as geopolitics, coronavirus, and travel restrictions have proven a stumbling block to $100 oil. Joe Biden’s recent intervention (SPR release) in the market will ensure it does not get there for some time.
But come 2022, there is a possibility one of Oil or Bitcoin might reach $100 or $100,000 respectively – a commodity supercycle can push oil to those levels and the preparation for the next Bitcoin halving might increase demand in the flagship crypto asset. From a trading/investing perspective, both assets can be traded on financial exchanges, but a fewer number of Nigerians trade Oil compared to Bitcoin.
So digital gold or black gold, what’s your pick?
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