Last week I went along to the inaugural meeting of Johannesburg’s Bitcoin Community, which was an eye opening experience full of people who are making Bitcoins, trading Bitcoins and looking at ways to use Bitcoins to provide payment services for South Africa’s great unbanked. Naturally there’s a lot of optimism within the group about the future of the cryptocurrency, which is currently trading at R1 910, tempered with an acceptance of the fact that it has to get easier to use before it can be adopted by the masses for buying goods.

Not sure what a Bitcoin is? Check out the video below.

Inspired by the event, I’ve put together this quick list of things you can already do with Bitcoins in South Africa if you’re interested in them. And this is a list of things you can’t.

  1. Trade them. South Africa has its own Bitcoin exchange, Bitx, which generally mirrors international fluctuations in price. There’s enough activity there to make trading worthwhile, and the accepted view these days is that if you want to make money from Bitcoins trading is the only way to do it. Unless you have a lot of money to invest in specialised mining equipment, don’t bother looking at that as a get rich quick scheme. What’s more, the more international exchanges are used, the better it is for the long term prospects of the currency as problems at one exchange will be less likely to have ripples throughout the world.
  2. Save them. There are some very clever economists out there who reckon Bitcoins are nowhere near their peak in value yet, and speculation – I repeat, speculation – is that they could increase their worth five-fold over the next year (they could also collapse to nothing if governments react harshly to the anonymous, uncontrollable currency in coming days). Most people in the room on Friday were more interested in accumulating rather than spending their BTCs, though, in the belief that the value is only going one way.
  3. Buy airtime. If those Bitcoins are burning a hole in your pocket, Die Aalwyn will swap them for real world airtime with all the major networks, and has tips for how to accumulate them first. Exchange value isn’t great, though.
  4. Get a lawyer. Apparently, several attorneys already accept Bitcoins as payment for their services. Try here and here.
  5. Buy a new PC. Or a T-shirt. Or toilet paper. Or sponsor a motorcycle ride across Africa.

The advice, though, if you’re interested in Bitcoins, is to get yourself to the local forum or Google+ pages and talk to people for ideas as to how to improve the Bitcoin community and contribute ideas. If you’re not convinced, check out the list of things you can’t do with Bitcoins here for some reasons as to why they should pique your interest.

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.