Christian Duffus, founder of Fonbnk, believes a lack of basic infrastructure such as telecommunications is slowing down cryptocurrency adoption in Africa.
The African continent is considered a significant market for crypto adoption due to its youthful population, flawed economic management by governments, and inadequate financial infrastructure for internal and global connectivity.
On Episode 28 of Hashing It Out, host Elisha Owusu Akyaw is joined by Christian Duffus, founder of Fonbnk, to discuss the complexity of onboarding users from the continent. Duffus shares his ideas for diverse and innovative ways to onboard new crypto users in developing markets, as well as explains how other factors like education and regulation affect the Web3 onboarding process in Africa.
Duffus started Fonbnk to provide a suite of on-ramps and off-ramps for people looking to enter the Web3 industry from developing countries. His fascination with digital payments is linked to the growth of mobile money on the African continent. Duffus observed people transfer balances and exchange them for other things with digital value on Facebook and in WhatsApp groups. The experience led to the creation of Fonbnk, and the company’s primary focus is on cash-first economies in Africa.
Owusu Akyaw points out how companies such as Fonbnk deploy on-ramps with interesting digital assets, like airtime, and how that significantly differs from how other people transact globally. Apps like Fonbnk allow users to convert airtime — digital credits for making calls and accessing the internet — into cryptocurrencies like USD Coin (USDC). Duffus explains that because many people are unbanked, building the next wave of financial technology on Web3 makes more sense.
On regulation and the future of Africa’s cryptocurrency ecosystem, the Fonbnk founder believes favorable regulations will come but may take a while and that more decentralized applications native to the continent will be shipped in the coming months.
“From a product standpoint, I definitely think you’re going to see much more on-chain activity, whether it’s the introduction of homegrown protocols as well as DApps and other projects that take into account the specific peculiarities, opportunities of the respective countrywide or continentwide markets, behaviors that uniquely exist in Africa. “
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