"Web3 or Web 3.0" is a relatively new concept in Africa. The technology which includes Blockchain, Internet of things (IoT), Metaverse, and NFTs, promises a free, open, and decentralised world. Latching onto this technological advancement early offers Africa a chance to play on a level playing field with the rest of the developed world.
Web3 adoption in Africa is on the rise and investors are taking note. Between June 2020 and July 2021, Africa’s cryptocurrency market grew by over 1,200% in value. Similarly, African Web3 and crypto-based startups have raised $139 million in 2022, a significant jump compared to zero a few years ago.
In this article, we identify the 14 startups leading Web3 adoption in Africa. The African startups are Afropolitan, Lazerpay, Mara, Ayoken, Fincra, Helicarrier, Xend finance, Jambo, Nestcoin, Pyppl, Canza Finance, Fonbnk, Valr, and OneWattsolar.
Afropolitan is a startup that wants to build a digital nation for Africans, at home and abroad. The community-as-a-service company is curating black and African talent, culture, capital, information, and experiences.
Afropolitan is leveraging decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), NFTs and cryptocurrency to create economic opportunities across borders and abundant lives for its members. The startup was founded in 2016 by Eche Emole and Chika Uwazie.
In the digital economy gig workers and businesses need a swift payment and payout method to scale across borders. Lazerpay built a decentralised and multi-chain payment gateway to make that possible.
With decentralised finance API, Lazerpay is fostering innovative crypto products to expose individual businesses to more opportunities. These products include accepting crypto payments, global payouts (without any time you want), business wallets, investing and earning in crypto, etc. Lazerpay was founded in December 2021 by Njoku Emmanuel, Prosper Ubi, and Abdulfatai Suleiman.
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Mara is a pan-African startup that offers a suite of products to help sub-Saharan Africans learn and earn from blockchain technology. The new pan-African platform’s products are focused to help bring blockchain’s numerous use-cases to reality in a scalable way.
Mara, the official crypto partner of the Central African Republic, currently has a custodial retail crypto wallet, it plans to build a pro-exchange for professional traders, and a layer-one blockchain for developers to build Africa-focused crypto and blockchain products. Chi Nnadi founded Mara in April 2021.
Ayoken is Africa’s first digital collectibles marketplace that connects creators to global audiences. The NFT marketplace is bridging the gap between artists, musicians, sports brands, influencers, creators, and their global fans.
Fincra is a payments solution provider that enables a seamless payment experience. Through Fincra’s API integration, fintechs, businesses, and developers can access cross-border payments solutions, payouts, settlement in different currencies, and security and encryption of data to prevent fraud.
The startup also offers virtual accounts in EUR, GBP, and NGN regardless of business location. Fincra was launched in September 2021 by Wole Ayodele to remove the challenges associated with traditional payment processing methods.
Hellicarrier is building crypto infrastructure to financially connect Africa to the rest of the world. The products they are deploying to achieve this are Buycoins & Buycoins pro, and Sendcash.
Buycoins is the place to buy, sell, and manage cryptocurrency portfolios. Buycoins Pro is for advanced crypto traders which features an order book, many more currency pairs and other tools for super fast trading on the go. Sendcash lets users send money to and from Africa easily. Helicarrier (originally BitKoin) was founded by Timi Ajiboye, Ire Aderinokun, and Tomiwa Lasebikan in 2017.
Xend finance is bringing Defi services to Africa. The blockchain-based application allows users to save in stable currencies, in order to hedge against inflation and devaluation. The online saving platform focuses on using decentralised finance (DeFi) to solve the problem of currency devaluation.
Billed as the first global blockchain bank out of Africa, Xend Finance aims to help credit unions, cooperatives, and individuals to save in stable currencies. Abafor Chima and Aronu Ugochukwu founded the organisation in 2019.
Jambo is a Congo-based startup building the Web3 super app that will educate, bank and entertain the continent. The startup wants to onboard young Africans to Web 3 financial ecosystems through play-to-earn gaming and Decentralised finance (DeFi) services including currency exchanges and remittances.
Nestcoin is democratising access to economic opportunities for people in frontier markets. The Web3 application company was founded by Yele Badamosi in November 2021. Nestcoin’s current products are Breach Club and Metaverse Magna.
The startup is leveraging its simplified crypto-native products that are educative, user-centric and scalable to eliminate the barriers (such as ignorance, complexities, skill gap, etc) associated with cryptocurrencies. Nestcoin is doing these without skimping on quality and functionality.
Pyypl’s innovative blockchain-based technology platform enables users to manage their money directly from their mobile phones. The financial services platform provides a digital wallet and MasterCard payment service that allows people to shop easily on the internet.
Pyypl (pronounced as “people'') is a digital financial services provider founded in 2017. Antti Arponen is leading the company which is currently based in the UAE. Pyypl is operates in Kenya and Mozambique.
Canza Finance is building the world’s largest non-institutional-based financial system. Canza which stands for "Change" in the Hausa language is fusing web3.0 technology, DeFi, crypto-assets, and Bureau de change operators (FX agents) to unlock various financial products for individuals and businesses in these areas.
The startup’s financial products include cross-border payments and enabling peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions within Nigeria. Canza finance was established in 2020 by Paschal Ntsama and Oyedeji Oluwoye.
Fonbnk is a new decentralised finance company using an innovative telecommunication tool to reduce the cost of the internet and phone bills. The startup wants to increase the disposable income and GDP per capita of the under-represented in sub-Saharan Africa.
With Fonbnk, users can exchange their airtime credits, regardless of their Mobile Network Operator (MNO) or country, with the MIN token. MIN tokens are pegged to USD and the token can be further exchanged back into airtime, cryptocurrencies as well as other more stable fiat currencies.
VALR is a digital asset trading platform where users can buy, sell, store and transfer cryptocurrencies. Pronounced as valor/valour, the startup helps bridge the gap between traditional fiat financial systems and the new world of crypto-assets.
OneWattSolar delivers tokenised digital services and products enabled by blockchain architecture and backed by IoT & AI. The mobile technology platform provides Energy-As-A-Service by decentralising the generation of electricity using Rooftop Solar.
Rather than making users bear the cost of the solar infrastructure upfront or in instalments, OneWattSolar carries the ownership costs while users only pay for the electricity. The cleantech startup was founded in 2010 by Femi Oye.
In conclusion, given Africa’s young population, we expect Web3 technologies to gain more ground on the continent. This widespread adoption will lead to the birth of multiple startups that will leverage the technology to build solutions to Africa's teething problems. Expectedly, other blockchain networks/protocols, venture capital firms, grant funders, governments, will pay attention to the Web3 sector in Africa.