By creating more secure saving and trading options as well as frictionless cross-border payment and instant local remittance, crypto continues to solve the persistent inefficiencies in Africa’s conventional financial systems.
But as good as this may sound, navigating through most of the available crypto products still feels like Chinese arithmetic to many Africans. And this experience is shutting out a large number of Africans from the crypto economy, thereby hindering even wider adoption.
In a bid to solve this problem, a handful of startups are entering the market. One of them, Payourse, a Lagos-based blockchain startup that builds user-friendly products and tools to accelerate the adoption of crypto in Africa, has secured a $600,000 pre-seed investment to scale its products, hire more talent and expand into new markets.
Joining this round is Michael Ugwu, one of the biggest NFT collectors in Africa, Flori Ventures, Olumide Soyombo’s Voltron Capital, and Allegory Capital. Other angel investors like CELO Co-founders Marek Olszewski and Rene Reinsberg, Kola Aina of Ventures Platform, Angel Touch Holdings, and Oluwatobi Anisere, also participated.
Founded in September 2019 by Bashir Aminu (CEO) and John Anisere (CTO), Payourse is solving the problem of accessibility and adoption of the Web3 economy by providing the core infrastructure and tools that help African businesses build user-friendly crypto and Web3 products.
It all started as a pet project
While working at Busha, a crypto exchange that recently raised $4.2 million seed funding, as its first product designer, Aminu got the idea to build a simple platform that collects wallet addresses and then generates shareable links. So he shared the idea with Anisere, who was a colleague and a front-end engineer then at Busha. Anisere bought into the idea and after a few concepts deliberation, they launched into action. In September 2019, Coinprofile was launched, as a pet project.
But because of its seamless experience, Coinprofile began to gain traction among crypto users. The more people got on the product the more the duo realised how powerful and important their product can get. So they continued to find product-market fit and collect customer feedback to improve Coinprofile.
“In May 2020, after acquiring a handful of users and considering the feedback and requests we’ve pulled, we added a remittance functionality that allows users to make payment with their wallets,” Aminu told TechCabal.
Now, a little over two years, Coinprofile has morphed into an easy, fast and cheap crypto-fiat payment gateway that allows users anywhere in the world to directly send crypto and receive fiat value in any chosen African bank account within minutes, starting with Nigerian bank accounts.
The Big Pivot
According to the CEO, in the process of building several web3 tools and APIs around the Coinprofile product, it became evident that they have not only built a great financial product, they have also sort of built infrastructures powerful and flexible enough for other businesses to incorporate, build and thrive on.
“Because of their ease of use, we realised that we could open up our technologies to other businesses to build sustainable and user-friendly web3 products on,” Aminu said. “This, we believe, will lead to the launching of more products the ecosystem needs to mature and encourage mass crypto adoption across the continent.”
As a result of this, the company last month announced that it’d be consolidating all its present and future products under a parent company, Payourse. The parent company has three core functionalities that power its infrastructure: wallets, remittances and liquidity.
The company said it has also started building use cases to display its ambition to power the next hundreds of crypto-enable businesses. For instance, it has built Simpa, which is an easy and fast no-code platform available for anybody to quickly launch a fully customisable crypto exchange within minutes.
Just like building web apps on the Bubble platform without writing a single line of code, Payourse wants to make sure people can build no-code crypto products and has already started with Simpa—with more to come.
When you say remittance, what about CBN?
It’s been over 10 months since the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered all financial institutions to stop facilitating crypto transactions. Thanks to startups like Helicarrier, Binance, Paxful and others that started using the peer-to-peer (P2P) model to minimize the effect of the crackdown on the market.
It was difficult to trade crypto in the early days of the sanction, but as these companies continued to improvise and improve their P2P offerings, things began to ease up. But how has Payourse, particularly, dealt with the elephant in the room?
While P2P is a good necessary alternative, it can be slow and insecure. Most of the exchange platforms don’t want to serve as escrow; for them, it’s like picking up another business entirely. So they only provide a P2P marketplace and leave everyone to their fate.
Payourse didn’t follow this P2P route, instead, they employ the service of liquidity partners. This means they’ve partnered with some entities that provide liquidity (Fiat currencies like the Naira) whenever somebody performs a transaction. Once you send your crypto, their partners get the signal and fulfill your transaction, within minutes.
Traction and growth
According to the company, there are currently over 5,000 users on Coinprofile who process millions of dollars on the platform. Payourse also said that in 2021, its payment gateway has grown 15,000% across all metrics, maintaining a 150% month-on-month growth rate.
Meanwhile, the new no-code tool Simpa which is on schedule to launch in the coming weeks is currently collecting data for early users to access the beta version.
Unlike other companies that charge fees on every transaction, Coinprofile doesn’t charge users on a transaction. So if it’s free to use, how then does the company make money?
“We make money from the little exchange margin we make from our liquidity partners on every transaction. This way, everybody wins,” said Aminu.
Speaking on the new investment, Aminu said the team is proud of the quality of their investors. “This new funding 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.”
“I worked closely with Bashir as a visiting Partner at Flori Ventures. I’ve spent 4 batches at YC and rarely do I see a company with this kind of knockout performance and a founder who is willing to put in the hard work to continue to nurture it.” Holly Liu, Visiting Partner at Flori Ventures, said. “Bashir is capable of meeting the demands of a crazy growth startup and also ramp up fundraising.”
Also speaking on their investment in Payourse, Olumide Soyombo, Managing Partner at Voltron Capital, said: “We are excited to back the Payourse mission as we believe this team is a super technical team with subject matter expertise. The team is solving an important problem by providing the key infrastructure for Africans and African businesses to adopt crypto.”
Payourse believes the future of finance in Africa will be defined by crypto and has set its goal to help more African businesses and individuals get on board, by positioning itself as the go-to platform for anything crypto on the continent. And it has already earmarked Ghana and Kenya as the next markets to push that ambition.