Payourse, a Lagos-based blockchain startup that builds products and tools to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency in Africa, on Wednesday, announced that it has raised $600,000 pre-seed funding to scale its products, hire more talent and expand into new markets.
The financing round was facilitated by Micheal Ugwu, one of the biggest NFT collectors in Africa, Flori Ventures, Olumide Soyombo’s Voltron Capital, and Allegory Capital. These are in addition to angel investors that include CELO Co-founders Marek Olszewski and Rene Reinsberg, Kola Aina of Ventures Platform, Angel Touch Holdings, and Oluwatobi Anisere.
With the notoriously fragmented nature of financial services in Africa, blockchain-enabled cryptocurrencies offer better financial mobility to Africa’s largely youthful population. As such, crypto adoption has been on the rise on the continent and Payourse wants to ensure that everyone has access to it
We spoke with the company’s CEO, Bashir Aminu on his journey and Payourse.
According to your business description, you offer tools that help businesses build crypto products. Can you elaborate more on what these tools are and how they help businesses build crypto products? Tell us about the vision behind Payourse?
So at Payourse, we are passionate about accelerating the adoption of crypto in Africa by making it more accessible to Africans. We do that through different ways, one of which is CoinProfile. CoinProfile allows people to send money from anywhere they are around the world into a bank account in Nigeria or a mobile money account across Africa.
With the success of CoinProfile, we realized that a lot of companies wanted to integrate cryptocurrency into their already existing apps. We also discovered new companies that want to develop crypto-related products but do not have access to the tools needed to make it happen, so we saw an opportunity. In our experience, we have also discovered that the crypto UX is broken thereby making crypto-related products very complicated and not user friendly.
So for us, our goal is to accelerate the growth of crypto by providing the right tools to create user-friendly products. We make it easier, faster and cheaper for businesses to build user-friendly crypto products using the tools we used to make CoinProfile. We have 3 main tools we offer as a service, the Payment tool, which allows users to integrate payment or easily accept payments; the Wallet tool, which allows you integrate wallets in your app; and the Liquidity tool, which allows you to allow users buy and sell crypto in your app. These are major products but we have more in the pipeline.
According to surveys, at least 32% of Nigerian internet users deal in cryptos as of 2020 making us the second largest crypto market in the world. Cryptocurrency is definitely the future of finance, what are your thoughts on this growth and concerns?
I think crypto has come a long way since when I started in 2016, there are a lot more people informed and aware about crypto and the growth is here to stay. To be honest, it is still extremely early days because many people still see crypto as a myth. I think one of the bottlenecks to the acceleration of crypto is its UX. If you use a regular crypto product, it’s a bit difficult for less tech-savvy people. While there are some platforms trying to simplify its process, the majority of crypto products are still complicated and difficult for many people.
Another major bottleneck is regulation, it is not very clear what the government’s stance is on cryptocurrency. Most countries are still trying to understand how it works while some are extremely hostile towards it. In my mind, I have no doubt that crypto is the future of finance. Daily, crypto solves a lot of my problems and I know that if a lot more people knew and understood it, it’ll be valuable too. I think for Africa, crypto is more of a need than a want because of how largely financially excluded a lot of people are in developing countries.
How has Payourse handled dealing with regulation especially in our environment and how do you think the crypto community and regulators can see eye to eye?
I think regulators can be a lot better and less strict because there is a lot more the government can achieve with cryptocurrency. Since the ban of crypto, adoption has grown and now a lot more people are interested, how ironic. What the government should focus on is how to create value from cryptocurrency. They can achieve this by creating an enabling environment for crypto-related businesses to thrive and then taxing these businesses.
The stance of the CBN governor and most analysts against crypto has been that it is used to facilitate anonymous transactions and will be used for money laundry and terrorist financing. The reality is that most of these criminals, almost 90% use fiat currencies for their transactions. The way to combat this is for transparency and easy adoption of cryptocurrency. Working closely with crypto exchanges can solve a lot of fraud-related problems and issues, We need more open-minded regulators to partner with exchanges and crypto companies to create an enabling environment for crypto to grow.
From its founding in 2019 till a few days ago, Payourse has received a total funding of $207k from investors. Now you have successfully raised $600,000 pre-seed funding, what should we expect from your team?
We are excited about this new funding because it will help us improve our existing use-cases and then build more as we extend into new markets and accelerate crypto adoption on the continent. We will hire more people in our team and build more use cases with CoinProfile.
CoinProfile is a platform that enables crypto-to-fiat exchange by allowing users anywhere in the world to send crypto and receive fiat/naira value in any chosen bank account within minutes. There are currently over 5,000 users on CoinProfile with millions of dollars processed on the platform. Since its launch, the exchange has grown 15,000% across all touchpoints and maintained a 150% month-on-month growth rate.
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