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INTERVIEW: CEO Of Bundle, Yele Bademosi, Is Leading Bundle’s Race To Transform Finance In Africa

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Yele Bademosi, CEO of Bundle Africa
Yele Bademosi, CEO, Bundle Africa |(Forbes) Image was modified

Africans are now beginning to develop more innovative indigenous tech solutions to address the many challenges that confront the continent. In recent years, Africa has witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of indigenous innovators and changemakers within the continent. 

Our startup feature series is focused on bringing to light the progress the continent is experiencing with the development of indigenous tech innovations, as well as the behind-the-scenes activities of the innovative changemakers at the forefront of these missions.

This feature will be a deep dive into the activities of fast-rising tech startup, Bundle, and how its CEO, Yele Bademosi, is spearheading Bundle’s vision of making payments and other financial transactions extremely seamless for the billions of people in Africa.

Bundle is a social payment application for crypto and cash. At slightly over 4 months after its launch in April 2020, the startup seems to be on a radical growth and high-impact streak. In an interview with Yele Bademosi, we were able to uncover some insights about the company’s activities and vision for the future. Read on to catch up on the insights we uncovered from our conversation with Yele Bademosi.

Bundle launched in April 2020. Four months down the line, how would you describe the journey? How receptive has the tech market been so far?

I think it’s been pretty good. It’s probably one of the most challenging and difficult things I’ve taken up. I think the quality of our team and how hard everyone has worked has been pretty good. In terms of the overall market, it’s been very positive. When I see the reviews, whether it’s on Twitter, the Play or App Store, and even on our telegram community,  you can tell that people are excited about what we’re building, and the future of the product. We only just clocked four months a few days ago, and so far, it has been a huge honour to build this product and try to take it mainstream. 

These past few months, we all know that Bundle has attained quite a number of milestones including hitting almost a forty thousand User Base within four months. So, what steps are currently in place to maintain this momentum that is starting to build up?

I think for us, it’s simple. First, we are very user-centric, and we are always thinking about what’s best for our users. Secondly, we know that our users want to make money on Bundle. As such, we want to make it easy for anyone to get started with crypto in a profitable way, whether it is buying and holding for an extended period of time, making some trades, or offering ways to earn interest on crypto assets. Through the number of things that we’re launching, I think our product innovation is what would keep us ahead of the curve. Unlike most crypto-only products, we are actually crypto and fiat. So, we are a cash wallet as well. We have spent a lot of time building out stuff on the crypto side, but there is still so much we can do on the non-crypto aspect of Bundle, and we think that because that overall market is actually larger than the crypto market, we would be able to bring more non-crypto users on board. We hope that when these non-crypto users are on Bundle and they begin to learn about crypto, they will possibly start to purchase and utilise crypto assets. 

Cryptocurrency is gradually becoming a household concept on the continent. Of course, coupled with that growing rate of adoption is the proliferation of crypto/tech startups. So, what exactly is the distinguishing factor that sets Bundle apart from the rest of the startups and what plans are in place to ensure that Bundle stands the test of time amidst the growing competition within the market?

We really don’t think a lot about competition. Our mindset is that only 1.4 million Africans use crypto today, and we have a continent of over 1.2 billion people. So, we are not competing over the existing crypto user base. We want to build the bridge that connects crypto to people who don’t use crypto or have crypto assets. So, because that’s our focus, we don’t really think about  the competition in the market. My personal background, pre-Bundle, was from an investment point of view, and I’m fortunate enough to have invested and supported a number of the well-known players in the space. It is a very cooperative environment because we know that the vision is larger than a single company. In terms of the differentiating factor, I think about it more from the point of view of the question: “What can we do that would attract the average user to use Bundle?”.  In my mind, I want Bundle to be the product that has mass usage potential. We are currently building a bunch of services around the wallet, to make it more mainstream. So, over the next couple of months, you’ll begin to see Bundle launch more mainstream features, whether in financial services or media or commerce, that takes us beyond what you currently know as Bundle today. 

We know that you recently launched the Bundle Alphas program to drive cryptocurrency adoption. However, some governments still remain quite indifferent about the concept of cryptocurrency whilst others have outrightly banned their use. In view of these developments, where exactly do you see cryptocurrency adoption in the next five years? Do you think these restrictive policies would largely hinder the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency in Africa?

Compared to the rest of the world, I think our regulatory environment is more supportive or more enabling than the rest of the world. I think only about two or three African countries have come out to outrightly ban crypto. I’m not sure that stance would change for the next couple of years. So, even if we have a few of them ban crypto, it wouldn’t be a change as large as 50%. We have over 50 countries on the continent, and crypto is not bound by geography. That’s why we always remind ourselves that Bundle is not a Nigerian company. We are an African company and we want to be in as many African countries as possible. So, we hope that even if a particular country comes out with restrictive regulations, we are able to survive because we are operating in multiple countries. With the product we have built,  because we are focused in Africa today doesn’t mean that we can’t be outside of Africa. There are other emerging markets like Latin America, Southeast Asia. We have seen African companies run outside of Africa, and because crypto is global, it is easy to expand.

In the first edition of the Bundle Rewind that was published by Bundle, you mentioned that you were planning on launching a Bundle Vault. Could you tell us more about that?

Sure. Bundle Vault is one of the features we are excited about, wherein users can take some of their crypto assets, whether it’s Bitcoin or the USD, and lock those assets to generate interest on their locked assets.  We have not yet published what it’s going to be, but compared to treasury bills right now, that is 2 to 3% on naira, you can be able to earn interest on your crypto assets, getting between 4, 5 to 7 percent per annum. We think that it will be an interesting product to a number of people. That is what we are trying to do with Vault, and we can’t wait to launch it to see what the reception in the market will be. 

At Bundle’s launch, you mentioned that you were planning on supporting 30 African countries before the end of the year. We would like to know if the expansion process has been kick-started and, if any, some of the challenges you have encountered during the expansion. 

It’s been a lot more challenging than we would have liked, in terms of expanding to other African countries. It seems challenging to identify partners that we could work with. We are making some headway there.  We probably wouldn’t make that initial target, in terms of fiat, but we are working on something that would allow us launch in as many African countries as possible although we wouldn’t initially support fiat in those countries. Over the next couple of months, we would, maybe, have a lot more on fiat channels. 

So, you think this goal is still quite achievable given the challenges you just mentioned? 

Yes.  I would say we wouldn’t launch in 30 plus countries and have the fiat in all of them, but launch in a number of countries where we are live and users from those countries can use Bundle.

What should Africans expect from Bundle in subsequent years? 

Success to me, is a product that is widely used across as many African countries as possible, and our users don’t even realize that they are using cryptocurrency. The vision for Bundle in the future is to ultimately be the product that you can’t help using frequently or multiple times in a day. We really want to be one of those applications that stay alongside Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and we know that we are African-based.


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

Have taken the plunge into startup life in any of these fields: Crypto and Blockchain, AI, Fintech. Would you like to get featured in our startup series? Please contact our editor-in-chief to learn more. 

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Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency e-Naira Gain Traction

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eNaira

According to Governor Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) digital currency, the eNaira, which was officially revealed on Monday, has garnered immense interest and a positive response from both within and beyond Nigeria, with 33 banks fully integrated on the platform. The CBN has successfully minted $500 million, with N200 million going to financial institutions, according to Emefiele, who spoke at President Buhari’s historic launch in Abuja.

In addition, over 2,000 clients have been added to the eNaira platform, and over 120 merchants have successfully enrolled. Since its launch, the eNaira website has had approximately 2.5 million daily views. Customers who download the eNaira Speed Wallet App will be able to complete the onboarding process and build their wallet, locate their eNaira wallet from their bank account, transfer eNaira from one wallet to another, and make payments at registered merchant locations.

In terms of maintaining a robust payment system, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) feels that the eNaira will make a big difference to Nigeria and Nigerians. The eNaira will also lower the cost of processing currency, allowing for more direct and transparent welfare interventions for citizens, as well as increased revenue and tax collection, easier diaspora remittances, lower the cost of financial transactions, and improved payment efficiency.

Governor Godwin Emefiele outlined these advantages during the historic debut in Abuja, saying that Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is the first in Africa and a digital version of the actual Naira. 

What is eNaira?

The eNaira is the same Naira with considerably more possibilities, Emefiele asserted emphatically, guaranteeing that the new payment system is one of the most robust in the world, sufficiently safeguarded, and thus nothing to worry about.

In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) began an intensive study, consultations, identification of use cases, and testing of the CBDC idea in a Sandbox environment, in response to increased interest in Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) around the world.

The goal of the study was to provide a strong argument for the introduction of a digital currency in Nigeria so that all Nigerians can benefit from a more successful and inclusive economy.

Following the completion of preliminary research, the CBN’s researchers and experts were able to clearly establish that a digital currency will promote a more paperless, inclusive, and digital economy, complementing the successes of prior policy initiatives and our rapidly increasing payment systems.

As a result, the CBN decided to create its own CBDC, dubbed the eNaira. Like the physical Naira – eNaira is a legal tender in Nigeria and a liability of the CBN, which will have the same value and always be exchanged at 1 naira to 1 eNaira

To reduce the risk of the process, the CBN has carefully considered the entire payments and financial architecture, and has structured the eNaira to complement and improve these ecosystems, as well as implementing security protections and policies to ensure the financial system’s integrity.

To maintain the integrity and stability of Nigeria’s payment system, strict adherence to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations would be enforced, according to Emefiele.

The eNaira, like other digital revolutions, is a journey, and Nigerians should expect more features in the coming months. Accessibility and onboarding of consumers without BVN, as well as the usage of the eNaria on the phone without access to the internet, are among them. 

Nigeria will be one of the first countries in the world to implement the CBDC using USSD on phones, bypassing the need for internet access. The CBN also plans to use the eNaira platform to onboard revenue collection agencies in order to increase and simplify collections, as well as to create sector-specific tokens to support the Federal Government’s social programs and distribution of targeted welfare schemes in order to lift millions of people out of poverty by 2025.

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Jack Dorsey‘s Square to develop open source Bitcoin mining

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Jack Dorsey Bitcoin

On Friday, October 15, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that American fintech company, Square, would be looking to get into Bitcoin mining. Jack Dorsey who is also Square’s CEO announced this on Twitter which subsequently sent waves through the bitcoin market, surging its price to almost a record high, rising over $62,000 over the weekend. According to the Twitter boss, Square is looking to building an open source Bitcoin mining system that would be available to individuals and businesses.

Sharing his thoughts further on the initiative, he stated that “Mining needs to be more distributed” and that “the more decentralized [mining] is, the more resilient the Bitcoin network becomes. He also mentioned the apparent inaccessibility of mining stating that “Bitcoin mining should be as easy as plugging a rig into a power source.

Dorsey also believes that bitcoin mining “needs to be more efficient and that “clean and efficient energy use” would be undoubtedly beneficial to the digital currency in the long run.

Dorsey ended the thread by saying that a “technical investigation would be undertaken by a Square team led by Jesse Dorogusker, Square’s hardware lead. If successful, this initiative would be another of Square’s bitcoin focused projects which includes a Bitcoin hardware wallet.

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Financial Leaders from G7 Release Guidelines for Central Bank Digital Currency

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Source: World Atlas

At a meeting that was held in Washington, yesterday, October 13, G7 leaders discussed central bank digital currency and endorsed 13 public policy principles with regards to their implementation. The financial leaders from G7 agreed that CBDCs would complement cash and should not be detrimental to the monetary system. The G7 leaders have been discussing CBDCs this week concluding that they should do no harm and meet rigorous standards.

It should be noted that G7 includes finance leaders in advanced economic nations comprising of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.S and the U.K. the G7 leaders make it mandatory that any newly launched CBDC should not harm the central bank’s ability to perform its duty of maintaining financial stability. In a joint statement by the G7 finance ministers and central bankers, they said that, 

“Strong international coordination and cooperation on these issues help to ensure that public and private sector innovation will deliver domestic and cross-border benefits while being safe for users and the wider financial system.” 

The joint statement further states that CBDCs are complements to cash and could serve as a liquid or safe settlement assets with an added advantage of anchoring existing payment systems. CBDCs issuance should be entrenched in a long-standing public commitment to transparency, rule of law, and sound economic governance. The statement added at CBDCs must be so efficient that they are fully interoperable on a cross-border basis. 

The G7 leaders agreed that they had a duty to minimize the incidence of ‘harmful spillovers to the international monetary and financial system” 

The G7 statement reiterated a similar statement earlier made by G20 that no global stablecoin project should begin operation until such a token has addressed legal, regulatory and oversight requirements. 

Countries like China and Nigeria are ahead of the pack with regards to the adoption of digital Yuan and Naira respectively. China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency may be a step forward for the country’s plan to promote its digital Yuan. Nigeria, on the other hand, postponed the launch of its eNaira in deference to the 61st anniversary of Nigerian independence on Oct 1. 

However, countries like the US and the UK are dragging their foot with regards to the introduction of CBDCs to their financial system. There are insinuations that America is in danger of being left behind technologically and financially if it doesn’t get serious with the implementation of CBDC in its financial system.

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