In Episode 28 of Hashing It Out, Christian Duffus, the founder of Fonbnk, delves into the challenges and strategies for onboarding cryptocurrency users in Africa. He highlights the impact of limited telecommunications infrastructure on crypto adoption and the continent’s potential as a crypto hub due to its youthful population and financial shortcomings.
Infrastructure Hurdles in Africa
Duffus points out that Africa’s crypto adoption faces hurdles stemming from inadequate infrastructure, particularly in telecommunications. This shortfall hampers accessibility and awareness, making it crucial to develop innovative solutions.
Fonbnk was created to offer accessible on-ramps and off-ramps for individuals entering the Web3 industry from developing countries. Duffus’s inspiration came from witnessing the rise of mobile money in Africa, where people exchanged digital balances in platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. Fonbnk primarily targets cash-based economies in Africa.
Duffus discusses Fonbnk’s innovative on-ramp approach, which includes the conversion of airtime (digital call and internet credits) into cryptocurrencies like USD Coin. Given the large unbanked population in Africa, building Web3 financial technology aligns with the region’s needs.
Regarding regulation, Duffus anticipates that favorable crypto regulations in Africa will eventually emerge, though it may take time. He believes that more decentralized applications native to the continent will be introduced in the near future.
The Future of Africa’s Crypto Ecosystem
Duffus predicts an increase in on-chain activity in Africa, with the introduction of homegrown protocols, DApps, and other projects that cater to the unique characteristics and opportunities of African markets. These developments will align with the distinctive behaviors and preferences of the continent.