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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

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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. 

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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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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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Understanding Speculation and Crypto Volatility

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Everyone who dabbles in the crypto industry learns almost immediately that the market is very volatile and oftentimes things can change very quickly. That volatility is the fundamental reason why some investors make absolutely stunning gains in so short a time and others lose a lot of money as well. Trading in crypto is one of the riskiest ventures any person can undertake and as they say, it’s not for the faint of heart. The risks can be mitigated of course and sometimes depends specifically on the coin or crypto asset being traded on, barring general market trends.

Nevertheless, to get to the bottom of the volatility concept, one must understand speculation in the market. To start off, the concept of speculation isn’t limited to cryptocurrencies, on the contrary, speculation has existed for as long as economics and trading has. But it is worth saying that speculation is often a feature of novel sectors, assets, commodities and the like. So, even though cryptocurrencies have been around for more than a decade, they’re still in their infancy as far as markets go. One could say that the market is still trying to find its feet.

One of the fundamental reasons why cryptocurrencies are so volatile is that they are fundamentally backed by nothing of value outside the attention that they get. Unlike many fiat currencies which are either pegged to another currency’s value or whose value is unilaterally determined by a central authority, cryptocurrencies only derive value as a function of how many people are willing to use is to transact, i.e. trust in the asset because other people trust it. As a rule of thumb, the larger the number of people who accept the asset, the more valuable it becomes.

This is one of the hallmarks of speculative trading. In the crypto world or in any market that’s novel and untested, many people are in it to win it which means their strategies in trade has the objective of making as much profits as possible in the short term. Therefore, the market enters a subtly dangerous cycle of rapidly changing prices of assets. Basically, investors typically buy assets when prices are low and wait. As more investors are attracted to the commodity for its low prices, it sets off a cascade where more people buy in, causing the price to steadily rise. 

However, all good things must come to an end and it almost always gets to a breaking point whereupon the price gets high enough for investors to begin to sell. This reverses the earlier cascade and as more and more investors pull out, the prices can fall dramatically causing even more to sell off in fear of losing whatever investments they have left. The prices having fallen resets the game and primes investors to begin buying again.

Volatility has been one of the talking points of many critics of cryptocurrencies often comparing it to a Ponzi scheme. And in certain cases, persons of interest with large pulls and audiences can substantially affect the rate at which prices rise and fall. Other factors include government regulations. Volatility at its core reflects the often chaotic nature of trade and market interactions and human hopes and fears.

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Market Watch

What China’s crypto clampdown means for investors

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Over the weekend, China, the biggest crypto mining country once again, began to clamp down on cryptocurrency. Ten Chinese agencies including the central bank and banking, securities and foreign exchange regulators have vowed to work hand in hand to expose illegal cryptocurrency activity.

China has always placed stricter rules on cryptocurrencies but the new rule has made all crypto-related activities illegal. According to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), it is illegal to cryptocurrency trading and anyone that does so will be severely punished; this includes those within China that are working for overseas platforms. To fully phase out the cryptocurrency mining sector, the National Development and Reform Council (NDRC) said that it would launch a nationwide crackdown on cryptocurrency.

Over the years, China does not recognize cryptocurrency as a legal tender. In 2013, the Chinese government referred to Bitcoin as a virtual commodity that individuals are allowed to freely participate in. This freedom, however, precludes banks and payment companies from providing services that are Bitcoin related.

In 2017, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was banned. The ban was also extended to the conversion of legal tenders to cryptocurrencies by trading platforms which led most of the platforms to shut down operations in China. The crackdown led 88 trading platforms and 85 ICO platforms to withdraw from the market as of July 2018.

To China, the crackdown on cryptocurrency is necessary as the country is trying to launch its official digital currency and the need to fulfil its 2060 climate targets. The crackdown was necessary as cryptocurrency was seen as infringing on people’s properties and ‘disrupting the normal economic order.’

The statement by PBOC on Friday was unequivocal as the current crackdown is distinct from the previous ones. In his statement on Friday, PBOC called Bitcoin, Ether and Tether ‘legally irreparable’ and should not be used. The new regulations forbid financial institutions, marketing and IT providers from supporting crypto-related activities. The activities of both crypto holders and miners are now considered illegal. This is what Henri Arslanian, a PwC crypto leader termed as “No ambiguity. No room for discussion. No grey areas” in his tweet.  

What does this mean for crypto holders worldwide?

The major effect of China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency is the increase in price volatility. While volatility is a common phenomenon in the crypto world, a crackdown initiated by the world biggest cryptocurrency mining country will have a huge effect on market price.    

After the PBOC interview, Bitcoin fell by 4% within 24 hours and is currently trading at $43,320. Ethereum fell by 6% and it is currently trading at $3,036. With the Evergrande debt crisis and the huge blow bedevilling the crypto market, a clampdown by China would most likely keep the market price on the red until another good news crops up.

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

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