A glitch, a surge and the disrupter

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A glitch on Google 12 hours before the 2019 presidential elections led to a surge in searches on AbokiFX, an online platform for live exchange rates. AbokiFX, and not a bureau de change operator, was first place many went to confirm if a dollar was really selling for N184. Details about who owns the website are sketchy. Abokifx Limited is a dormant company registered in the UK with one director, Olusegun Adedotun Oniwinde. Since 2016, after the first economic recession in 25 years arrived unannounced, the five-year-old website has become a reference point for Nigerians.

In retrospect, that singular event complemented with search interest in AbokiFX from Google Trends and demographic data on Nigerians living abroad shows the role of technology when events unfold these days. For a history buff, it’s also an opportunity to glance back at the past.

Data on the search history of AbokiFX for the past one year on Google Trends shows its popularity peaked between February 17 and 23, 2019 in Nigeria, the US and UK. People in Kano, Lafia, London, Maryland and Texas were just as freaked out about the overnight appreciation of the naira against the dollar.

In Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja are the cities where people are most interested in the website. Though Rivers retained the top spot in terms of states, Kano, Oyo, Ogun and Enugu generated more searches than Lagos. And tellingly in the US, the top 10 cities with the largest Nigerian populations were among the 30 cities where the site generated the most interest.

It’s easy to understand why the exchange rate of the naira to the dollar is of interest among Nigerians living in Kano, London and Texas. For some Nigerians the greenback is the default hedge against inflation or … Read More...