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Swapping local currencies and bitcoin in perfect harmony: Interview with YellowCard Financial’s CEO on his hopes for the crypto future



Chris Maurice – CEO Yellowcard Financial

The adoption of crypto in Africa is on the rise. High inflation rates, volatile currencies and the unavailability of banking infrastructure, are just some of the reasons why crypto is easily gaining ground on the continent. This might be why Chris Maurice, CEO of one of the fastest growing crypto exchange platforms in Africa, said: “There is no better place for bitcoin to thrive than in Africa”. 

Chris’ belief in Africa’s crypto growth is unprecedented, jumping on a plane headed  to Africa to start a company that will help solve Africa’s financial problem without any prior knowledge of the continent, is, according to him, “either dumb or genius”. With the speed at which cryptocurrencies are being adopted in Africa, Chris’ move can be said to be a genius one. 

Handling more than $25 million a month in transactions, Yellow Card might just be the company which would ease and accelerate the crypto adoption process in Africa. 

While I spoke with Chris, I felt his enthusiasm, not just towards crypto adoption in Africa, but also towards the development it will bring to Africa. 

Explaining to me why he feels bitcoin will go mainstream in Africa before any other continent, Chris said: “Bitcoin will go mainstream, that’s the reality of what we see every day”. He explained that there are more practical use cases in Africa, people actually use bitcoin in Africa because it solves their financial problems. 

Bitcoin will thrive in Africa – Chris Maurice, CEO, YellowCard Financial

One of these problems is what Chris encountered at a bank in the U.S. At the bank, Chris met a man who was trying to send $200 to Nigeria, and was charged $90. Just like that, Chris was on his way to Lagos to create the startup that will someday overhaul the African financial market. “It was the first time I had ever left the United States and came to Lagos to stay with Munachi”, he said. Munachi, who is now the Chief Business Officer at Yellow Card, convinced Chris to start a company in Africa’s most populous nation.

Chris told Decentralize Africa that Yellow Card users are not only residents of  “Lekki”, a part of Lagos known to be inhabited by mostly high income earners. This suggests that crypto users in Africa aren’t only high income earners. They are basically people who are frustrated with the problems that often come with the fiat currency, and as such, want a way out. 

Chris emphasized the “practical” usage of bitcoin in Africa for savings and payment, mentioning that you do not really see such usage in the West. 

“Most of them are hodlers” he said, mainly hoping for prices to go up so they can sell.

Though Chris has high hopes for crypto in Africa, he admitted that there are challenges that still stand in the way of running a crypto exchange on the continent. “Each country has its own unique challenges but there is a general challenge of basic infrastructure.” Electricity and a stable internet connection are some of the basic challenges that not only affects crypto exchange on the continent, but also other economic activities. 

“[Those challenges] can’t stop crypto from going mainstream, if I’ve learnt anything from my time here, it’s that people are too persistent.” Africans are more persistent than the challenges they face. Poor internet and electricity has not stopped Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria from sitting at the top positions in crypto adoption ranking alongside the United States, Russia and China.

Chris met with Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, during his time in Africa. “Jack Dorsey has plans for the continent”, Chris told Decentralize Africa.  But COVID-19 is putting a pause to things at the moment. Like Chris, Jack, who is also a bitcoin enthusiast, sees Africa’s crypto potential. 

Crypto isn’t just going to help Africa solve its financial problems, it will also attract the right kind of people. According to Chris, “having people like Jack excited about Africa is good…”. He added that Africa needs more jobs coming in to help get it to a point where it is creating enough jobs on its own. 

“Where do you see Yellow Card in 10 years?”, I asked Chris. He laughed and replied: “I’m still trying to plan out 2021. Hopefully, in 10 years, we’d love to see anyone in the continent access the technology, regardless of where you are…swap local currency and bitcoin in perfect harmony”.

For Chris, the development which crypto can bring to Africa, and the persistence and perseverance of Africans, is what drives his belief in the continent. Yellow Card could bring that development sooner than later.

Decentralize Africa startup series features individuals and teams building indigenous tech-startups that help people at large scale.

Would you like to get featured in our startup series? Please contact our editor-in-chief to learn more. 


Decentralize Daily

From Crypto and Blockchain to AI, Fintech and Web 3.0 delivered twice in a week (Mondays and Fridays)

Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

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Crypto Assets

Crypto prices drop as global market fear increases



Top cryptocurrency prices have fallen amidst a drop in stocks and fears over China’s Evergrande debt crisis. In the last 24hour, Bitcoin dropped from $47,772 to $42,630 shedding about 8.58%. this is the lowest in price since another bull run began on Sept 5 after the April crash.

El- Salvador’s President, Nayib Bukele sees the fall as an opportunity to invest more. Recall that the country adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender on September 7. Despite the adoption, the price of Bitcoin has fallen by almost 14% since then.

Other coins have experienced dramatic crashes within the last 24hours. Solana, a coin that has experienced 355% growth within the last 3 months fell from $162 to $130 shedding about 11.39% within the last 24hours. Solana’s fall may be categorized by the 17-hour outage which the founder, Anatoly Yakovenko said was caused by bots “flooding the networks”

Ethereum fell by 9.37% while Dogecoin and Axie Infinity fell by 11.22% and 14.14% respectively within the last 24hrs hours. While crypto experiences dark Monday, El-Salvador keeps investing more money in Bitcoin.

A look at the global market

The global market is experiencing fear due to the Evergrande debt crisis. A report published by the University of Michigan shows that consumer’s sentiment is beginning to decline. This trend alone may impact the crypto market as well.

On the other hand, the global market downturn must have been spurred by the Evergrande debt crisis. The company grew to be one of China’s biggest companies by borrowing more than $300bn. Last year, Beijing made rules to control the debt owed by big real estate developers. This led Evergrande to offer its properties at major discounts to raise more money to keep the business afloat. Right now, the company is struggling to meet the interest on payment of debts.

Why would it matter if Evergrande fails?

The collapse of the multi-million dollars company would affect the global market; including the crypto market. Many people bought properties from Evergrande and they expect to make gains. If Evergrande falls, crypto investors will be forced to withdraw more money to keep their business running without the means to invest more. When one business fails, the other gets affected indirectly. This also applies to other firms that do businesses with Evergrande.

The potential impact on China’s financial system is another effect of Evergrande’s fall. In his statement to BBC, Mattie Berkink, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), said that “the financial fallout would be far-reaching. Evergrande reportedly owes money to around 171 domestic banks 121 other financial firms” if the company fails, other lenders or businesses may be forced to lend less. Thereby leading to a credit crunch- a situation where companies struggle to borrow money.


Decentralize Daily

From Crypto and Blockchain to AI, Fintech and Web 3.0 delivered twice in a week (Mondays and Fridays)

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Bitcoin in Africa

The rise of CBDC in African economies



Many nations have taken cues from the world of crypto and its resounding successes over the last decade. In order to avoid getting left behind, governments worldwide are increasingly turning their attention towards implementing some form of digital currency, a CBDC which in full is Central Bank Digital Currency. Although inspired by cryptocurrencies, CBDC’s are quite different from traditional crypto platforms. The main differences are that CBDC’s are unlikely to be decentralized, the supply of this currency regulated by the host’s country’s central bank as the CBDC is designed to operate as a sovereign legal tender, the digitized form of the host country’s fiat currency. Thus, a central bank may issue digitized tokens of its currency of which their value is pegged to the fiat currency of the nation in question, making CBDC’s stablecoins.

Africa has seen a rise in the use of cryptocurrencies and it’s still pushing frontiers in this sector. Although the use of crypto in many African nations is becoming more and more pervasive by the day, the tone of governments in many of these countries toward the sector is cautious at best and threatening at worst. However, a few nations have voiced interests in creating digitized versions of their legal tender to function as a CBDC. Amongst these are Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya and Tunisia.

Many of these projects are still in the research phase or developmental phase however. A good example is Ghana’s proposed CBDC, the E-cedi being developed in partnership with German company, Giesecke + Devrient. Nigeria’s CBDC project, the eNaira has been announced and according to Nigeria’s central bank, this CBDC will be launched sometime in 2021. To that end, the CBN has partnered with fintech company, Bitt Inc. to serve as the technical partner in the eNaira’s development. Reportedly, the CBN had made the decision to digitize the Nigerian Naira in 2017.

While the pursuance of digital currencies in African nations is a welcome development, implementation of these schemes isn’t without challenges. Chief among the issues countries in Africa face would be the already existing financial service inequality and poor penetration of internet access in the continent. These challenges must be tackled in order to allow for mainstream adoption of CBDCs and the subsequent provision of financial inclusion. The benefits largely depend on the peculiarities of the nation deploying them. For instance, a digital currency is thought to help Nigeria increase foreign remittances, it’s second largest source of forex after oil. Whatever the outcome of these projects, it is becoming apparent that CBDC’s have come to stay.

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Decentralize Brief

Bitcoin trades above $51k ahead of El Salvador’s adoption



Bitcoin growth

Bitcoin price has rallied above $51,000 ahead of El Salvador’s adoption. The immediate surge in price may be due to the social media campaign that everyone should buy sats of Bitcoin to support El Salvador’s plan to make the coin a legal tender or it may be due to the news of El Salvador’s adoption of the coin as a legal tender on September 7. Users of social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit are discussing how they will buy Bitcoin of $30 each to mark the new El Salvador Bitcoin law.

The surge in Bitcoin’s price began in the last 24hrs with the price rallying around $51,955 with a 3.37% increase. This is an all-time high after the April crash that brought the price of Bitcoin from $64k down to $28k. The move by El Salvador to be the first country that accepts Bitcoin as a legal tender and the social media campaign that leads to a surge in price ahead September 7 are a repetition of events that occurred late last year and early this year with regards to institutional investors and how the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed.

El Salvador, a country in Central America, has been preparing heavily to adopt Bitcoin by installing ATMs to allow citizens to convert the token into US dollars. Last week, the country’s Legislative Assembly passed a law to allow for the creation of a $150m Trust to support the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars.

To promote the use of Bitcoin, the government states that it will give the adult population of El Salvador $30 in Bitcoin once they download “Chivo” the wallet issued by the government. This was confirmed by the Finance Minister, Alejandro Zelaya.

What this means for Bitcoin investors

Apart from the adoption by Salvadorians, on-chain analytics show that Bitcoin is in high demand. The fourth halving that occurred will make Bitcoin become a scarce token in the nearest future. Thereby increasing the price sporadically.

With El Salvador’s interest in Bitcoin, other countries are likely to follow suit- Panama is considering following El Salvador’s lead. History will repeat itself as this development will serve as another crypto rout that occurred early this year when Tesla and MicroStrategy announced their support for Bitcoin.

El Salvador’s new law allows the use of Bitcoin as a legal tender it can be used to buy goods, pay for taxes and bank loans. This means more demand for Bitcoin, with the fourth halving that occurred, it means less supply. A common rule of economics for demand and supply will apply. Prices are projected to keep rising. At the time of writing this report, Bitcoin is trading at $51,839 with a projection of $52k before the end of today and higher tomorrow when Salvadorians begin to use the token.

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