Developers, businesspeople, and investors consider the impact of Web3. Many people believe that this new path offers the chance to create the technological world of the future. The summarized highlights session from REDeFiNE TOMORROW 2023, organized by SCB10X and Bloomberg. In the session, Web3 was discussed in terms of its role in enhancing financial business in Africa, highlighting its potential to address financial exclusion in underserved markets.
This time, featuring Ruth Iselema, CEO and Founder of Bitmama, Rene Reinsberg, Co-Founder of Celo and President of Celo Foundation, Jessica Gaubert, COO of Impact Market, and Charles Nichols, Founder of Nuzo, who have been operating businesses on Web3 to bring about change for Africans.
4 essential Web3 platforms that are available in Africa
The Human Empowerment Protocol, also known as the Impact Market, was established in 2020. It aims to provide financial services for people who are underprivileged and cannot access financial services, currently focusing on Africa and Latin America.
Impact Market will always offer support for a basic income to help with poverty. Users will be able to receive CUSD (Celo Dollar) payments through the application wallet. It has assisted over 15,000 people in 33 countries in the past three years.
Recently, Impact Market unveiled a brand-new service called Microcredit with Collateral, which can be enabled on the application.
Nuzo is an e-commerce platform for small retailers in Africa, with Kenya serving as its primary market. Compared to other parts of the world, African markets are where people prefer to make face-to-face transactions. Nuzo wants to create an alternative purchasing ecosystem that replaces the current one, by leveraging Celo's network. By providing low-cost wholesale prices and loyalty rewards in the form of Nuzo Coins, the company has helped retail stores offer stock at an affordable price. It is possible to purchase items with Nuzo Coins and cash through the Nuzo Wallet.
In addition, stablecoins enhance purchasing power and provide wealth protection since local currencies are declining. Inflation is another factor that reduces people's wealth by 10% to 20% annually.
However, Africans still prefer physical stores. Therefore, Nuzo considers it a seamless experience to convert cash's value into cryptocurrency or stablecoins and then redeem it for products used in daily life.
A blockchain payment system that supports cross-border transactions is called Bitmama. Currently, Bitmama has been in business for two years and processed over a million transactions.
Stablecoins are another viable option for Africans because they facilitate payments and combat devaluation. People in those nations still rely on money-transfer transactions. Stablecoins can then be used by Bitmama as part of its infrastructure to support cross-border transactions.
Bitmama plans to expand to other markets in Africa and Western countries to better serve international workers who have to send money home.
In 2017, Dunia Pay was founded as a wallet and savings account for people in Francophone Africa. It functioned as a channel and wallet for users to easily conduct financial transactions on the blockchain.
Currently, Dunia Pay is concentrating on the B2B business model and developing Stablecoins specifically by working with numerous local businesses to facilitate the conversion of local currency into Stablecoins.
The importance of Web3
Jessica believes Web3 is an important technology for Impact Market’s work. Low-income people struggle to open bank accounts, save money, or obtain the capital they need to operate their businesses. Financial institutions, such as banks, require that borrowers provide previous financial documentation that comes from legitimate authorities. Jessica claims that Web3 and blockchain will close these gaps since intermediaries like banks are not needed. Using cryptocurrencies no longer requires fees or verification from financial institutions.
For example, Impact Market assisted a young tortured woman in 2020 and could not get away because she lacked her own financial independence. Impact Market has become her answer. However, she recently joined the microcredit project to raise funds to expand her fruit stand. Impact Market provides financial tools for those in need.
As Charles from Nuzo points out, there are many small retail stores in Africa that sell basic goods such as sugar, tea, and oil, which generate only 2–5% profit. Due to this, they may not be able to cover their expenses.
Charles believed that these retail stores would be significantly impacted by rising margins in the commodity market. Direct factory orders for goods are possible through Nuzo. As a result, it can direct them to stores with lower prices and offer discounts.
Additionally, Nuzo offers financial services like cash withdrawals, deposits, and payments through Nuzo for merchants. Those who open Nuzo Shops can offer these financial services to their clients and make money from the services.
As customers can use their Nuzo coins whenever they want and there is no expiration date on them, Charles claimed that loyalty rewards primarily benefit Nuzo's customers.
Ruth from Bitmama used Nigeria as an example, where dollar shortages and inflation have prevented banks from offering international transactions services. African nations import more goods from Asia because of this issue. Businesses are also having trouble using dollars to make payments.
As a result, Bitmama, which has the infrastructure for stablecoins, has come to this point by serving as a medium for exchanging local money for stablecoins, which are backed by many Asian companies. Also, it has collaborated with the US, Canada, and Europe to make it possible for Africans to conduct international transactions with Africa using stablecoins.
Serge from Dunia Pay stated that the Central Bank has imposed restrictions on the currency exchange rate for companies operating in francophone nations. Therefore, Dunia Pay functions provide these businesses with instant access to liquidity in the form of stablecoins.
Businesses can use Dunia Pay, a tool that converts local currency into Stablecoins, with USD and other European currencies. Serge gave the example of Burkinabe mining companies using the tool from Dunia Pay for their transactions.
What will the future hold for Africa and Web3?
Ruth says Africans had previously shifted their focus to Web3. He believed, though, that the use of products and services still needed motivation. It could specifically raise people's awareness of this technology.
Serge thought it was possible for Web3 to one day have more than a billion users. As an example, Web3 would continue to grow, just as financial service apps for smartphones did in the past. People will be drawn in like they were with smartphone financial services if we increase usage motivation factors like promotions and rewards along with usage credibility.
If we had the tools people wanted, Jessica said, getting them to use financial tools on Web3 would not be difficult. These resources must be user-friendly, open to everyone, and beneficial to society. She suggested that in order to help people recognize the significance of this issue, the society's authorities should act as advisors.
From Charles' perspective, he demonstrated how consumers still require trust in financial services and that African retail stores still need physical touchpoints. The goods and services that people can still exchange for cash are those that Charles believed could lead to the creation of a billion Web3 users. There are also limitations on how much technology can be used by Africans because there is still an enormous gap between those who own smartphones and those who do not.
What are investors expected to do?
Jessica claimed that assistance could come from any source, including investors. Being a lending service with cutting-edge technology, Impact Market, which offers microcredit, has had difficulty finding lenders. Impact Market, on the other hand, seeks to empower people to escape poverty, particularly women. She believed that Impact Market's assistance could help them get by and grow their businesses through its financial support.
Charles agreed with Jessica that it is challenging to support asset lending services. He stated that there is currently a lot of interest from investors to invest in Asia. Due to the fact that e-commerce services in Asia still call for physical activity and are subject to regulations specific to these businesses, Asian businesses actually operate similarly to those in Africa. Charles suggested that investors have a long-term perspective and a variety of data, including data on demographics, economic growth, and infrastructure that is constantly evolving in terms of technology.
According to Serge, Dunia Pay has been searching for business partners to help with platform registration. He disclosed to investors that he had raised money during the seed round.
Continue watching on YouTube at Web3 Africa - Onboarding the next billion users