Adaverse, a premier Venture Fund and Cardano Accelerator across Africa and Asia has strategically invested in Kotani Pay, a trailblazing technology bridging Web3 platforms with Africa's local payment channels. Alongside other distinguished investors, Adaverse commitment further bolsters Kotani Pay's integration with the Cardano network.
Africa's Developing Financial Landscape
In Africa, the technological and financial landscapes present unique challenges. Out of over 650 million unique mobile users at the end of 2022, over 60% of the population remains reliant on basic phones, lacking standard internet connectivity, creating a barrier to the adoption of modern financial practices. This restriction becomes even more palpable in the burgeoning digital currency sector. Concurrently, there exists a significant gap in financial literacy and access to capital, especially among market merchants, traders, farmers, freelancers, and artisans. These underserved communities, often underbanked and sometimes illiterate, grapple with limited resources, inhibiting their potential growth.
The rise of fintech startups offers a beacon of hope, yet many of these initiatives fail to reach deep into the grassroots where more than 40% of the populace remains unbanked, leaving a vast majority of the underbanked untouched. Additionally, while the allure of cryptocurrency and Web3 financial products holds the promise of democratizing finance, the technical prerequisites of many DeFi platforms remain prohibitive. Requiring tech-savvy knowledge and stable internet access, these platforms inadvertently alienate those they aim to serve.
In this landscape, Kotani Pay stands out as a key player, facilitating on-ramp and off-ramp processes that enable businesses to connect Web3 payments to local merchants, making transactions smooth through stablecoin-to-fiat conversions. With its innovative use of USSD codes, even individuals without internet access can be part of this financial transformation. Kotani Pay's robust technology stack allows other financial platforms to integrate with ease, facilitating a range of services from transactions to cross-border remittances. By seamlessly merging technology with inclusivity, Kotani Pay ensures the digital financial revolution is accessible to every African, no matter their tech proficiency or connectivity.
In this discussion, Brian Kimotho, Co-Founder and CMO of Kotani Pay, delves into the project's evolution, milestones, and future plans, especially in collaboration with Adaverse, EMURGO Africa, and their upcoming Cardano integration.
Q: What Is Kotani Pay?
Brian Kimotho: Kotani Pay, launched in 2020, is an advanced technology stack offering seamless integration between blockchain protocols and local payment channels in Africa. Initially leveraging a USSD code for digital-to-fiat asset withdrawals, its capabilities have expanded based on feedback, now accommodating specific user programs and over 15 blockchain networks. The platform's agnostic and customizable nature facilitates an on-ramp/off-ramp API for swift cashouts via mobile or bank accounts.
Q: What market challenge does Kotani Pay tackle?
Brian Kimotho: Nearly 500 million Africans rely on basic phones, often hindering their access to blockchain's financial advantages due to limited internet connectivity. Kotani Pay fills this void, allowing both basic and smartphone users to interact with blockchain assets using ubiquitous USSD codes in Africa. Transactions don't need internet access, facilitating smooth digital asset conversions to local currencies, such as the Kenyan shilling. Beyond that, businesses leverage our API for digital transactions, and our De-Fi initiative grants farmers accessible, low-interest loans, enhancing their financial stability.
Q: How has Kotani Pay uniquely outpaced its peers?
Brian Kimotho: Our platform's blockchain-agnostic gateway is designed to allow collaboration and optimized functionality across boards, thus enabling anyone with a mobile phone to tap into vital financial resources. With the integration of stablecoin settlement, businesses and individuals can efficiently remit money to Africa from across the globe. Since launch, we have made significant progress through collaborations with partners such as Cinch Markets and have furthered its reach, enabling benefits like low-interest loans for farmers. To date, Kotani Pay has facilitated $23 million in transfers, largely inbound, with an impressive average transaction size of $150,000, benefiting over 15,000 users, including refugees and freelance workers.
Kotani Pay has also facilitated financial inclusion across diverse groups, from refugees in UNHCR camps receiving basic income from crypto benefactors to unemployed youth who can now work on global platforms, cashing out their digital earnings directly to mobile money wallets.
Q: Your achievements are commendable. How did this journey begin?
Brian Kimotho: Emerging from a Computer Technology background, I ventured into Web 3 in 2017. By 2018, serendipitous meetups had paved the way for Kotani Pay's founding team. Initially, we focused on node validation for blockchain protocols, coupling it with initiatives to spread blockchain awareness. Our pivotal realization was the tech gap overlooking non-smartphone users, leading to the inception of our SMS wallet. Today, from starting on the Celo Blockchain, we've grown chain-agnostic, championing accessibility across 15 different blockchains, and we are eager to integrate Cardano.
Through our strategic partnership with Adaverse, we're poised to unlock unprecedented growth opportunities. Their expertise in scaling Web3 solutions aligns seamlessly with our vision, and together, we're set to revolutionize payments. This collaboration is a pivotal step towards achieving our ambitious growth targets.
Q: Tell us more about how Kotani Pay plans to integrate Cardano
Brian Kimotho: Kotani Pay recognizes Cardano's mission to create a more inclusive and accessible financial ecosystem and will connect to Cardano through innovative API solutions, tokenization, stablecoin integration, and infrastructure development. Kotani Pay's groundbreaking API is set to become a linchpin for developers and businesses looking to seamlessly integrate with Cardano and Cardano's $USDA, eventually aiming to catalyze the African Web3 market through this integration. In our strategic approach to the Cardano ecosystem, collaboration stands central. We're engaging with key partners like the DirectEd Development Foundation to harness Cardano for social initiatives, such as streamlining scholarship distributions. Furthermore, by aligning with other dApps, we aim to enhance the ecosystem's value, especially in Africa, by, offering diverse services and fostering growth. Our collective goal is to leverage the interconnectivity of blockchain, driving innovation and positive change through synergistic partnerships within Cardano's landscape.
Q: What does the future hold for Kotani Pay?
Brian Kimotho: Following our latest funding, we're advancing our core products, with a keen focus on enhancing our API and diving deeper into Cardano integration. Our mission remains rooted in revolutionizing the African financial landscape through transparency and speed. With an eye on expansion, South Africa is the next market we're venturing into. We're also building strategic partnerships within the Cardano space to deliver maximum value. As we journey forward, broadening user adoption and educational initiatives are at the heart of our strategy.
Joining this discussion, Vincent Li, Adaverse Founding Partner, shares his enthusiasm about this investment, saying, “At Adaverse, we prioritize innovations that address technological gaps in areas rich with untapped potential. Our commitment to Kotani Pay signifies more than just an investment; it's a recognition of their mission to integrate Web3 platforms with Africa's efficient local payment systems. This partnership goes beyond capital. It's about aligning on a shared vision to democratize financial access, harnessing the Cardano blockchain to transform the future of payments throughout the continent.”
Shogo Ishida, Co-CEO of EMURGO Middle East and Africa, also added, “We’ve seen firsthand the transformative power of Kotani Pay in the financial sector. EMURGO Africa is committed to fueling their growth, and we’re excited about the vast opportunities ahead, especially as they harness the strengths of Cardano to enter new markets.”
To access Kotani Pay Products for your business, you can book a demo on the website here
Adaverse is a Cardano Ecosystem accelerator and incubator in Africa, Asia and beyond. It was established as a collaborative initiative between EMURGO and Everest Ventures Group to support Startup founders by providing them with essential resources such as funding, mentorship, and robust tech infrastructure to scale their Web3 solutions on a global scale
Since its inception, Adaverse has invested in and accelerated over 45 companies across a variety of sectors, including Web3, exchanges, NFTs, gamefi, DeFi, and proptech.
Web3 startups can apply for Adaverse funding here.
Adaverse Official Links
Facebook: Adaverse Accelerator
Startup School: Adaverse Startup School
BuildUp Africa Podcast: BuildUp Africa
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