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The African blockchain solutions spearheading financial inclusion

By Arnold Mutunga

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.

Africa is making huge strides towards improving financial inclusion for its population with an influx of novel solutions aimed at banking the unbanked and underbanked. Over the past few decades several efforts have been made to boost accessibility to financial products and services within the continent. Most of these efforts, however, have failed to capture the essence of the African financial landscape that is largely informal, thus limiting their reach and ability to address the existing challenges in the sector.

A finance system has to be accessible, equitable, and affordable for it to be useful to the population. This is why traditional financial infrastructure deeply rooted in the banking system has failed to take off in Africa. The financial services offered through these systems are oftentimes expensive, inaccessible, exclusive to specific target people, or incompatible with local social, cultural and religious beliefs.

The mobile money blueprint

The advent of mobile money provided a new proposition that captures the essence of the average African that the banks failed to embrace. Mobile money services like Mpesa remove barriers from both the supply and demand side of the financial system. This enables the free flow of money through easily customizable financial solutions. This has been a great eye-opener, showing that the secret to financial inclusion in Africa is through local solutions rather than foreign traditional finance.

As such, most of the successful financial solutions targeting the African population hugely borrow from the mobile money model. New financial inclusion initiatives are built around this with a blend of local underlying factors to tailor their products and services to the demands of the populace. 

Blockchain-based applications are on the frontline when it comes to empowering Africa financially with novel solutions that directly address the challenges within the sector. These Africa-centric initiatives are transforming remittance, e-commerce and payments across the continent.

Blockchain-based financial solutions for Africa

The first solution is through remittances. 

Remittances and cross-border payments for Africans is one sector that cryptocurrencies have massively transformed. Africans usually incur high transaction costs, often doubling foreign exchange transfer costs to send money back home or even to transfer funds to merchants across the border.

Cryptocurrencies enable Africans to send money seamlessly, instantaneously, and with minimal fees, greatly reducing the cost of doing business and supporting their families back home. Blockchain-based platforms like BitPesa, YellowCard, Minit Money, and Kotani Pay among others are on the forefront of transforming cross-border payments within the continent.

E-commerce is another solution.

Africa has the fastest growing number of internet users and a largely youthful population making it the globe’s youngest continent. As such, the continent is also rapidly digitizing. However, Africa still lags behind in the digital economy. There’s a low uptake of solutions like e-commerce with only a small fraction of retail transactions conducted online. This low participation is due to limited options for online shopping payment solutions.

Innovative solutions like Nuzo are transforming e-commerce by encouraging African merchants, wholesalers, kiosk owners, and customers to participate in economic ownership and governance within the ecommerce ecosystem. The blockchain-based platform provides seamless digital transactions while providing a holistic value chain for its participants as they can pay, save, earn rewards and trade local currency for digital dollars.

Finally, there is the crypto trade and exchange.

Trading cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based derivatives has been a boon to the global economy. Millionaires have been minted, some with almost overnight success. But Africans face multiple challenges to participate in crypto trading. The documentation and verification requirements fail many Africans on such platforms, thus limiting their access to crypto.

Multiple Africa-native platforms have been developed to address these challenges and to cater to the specific needs of the population. These African-based crypto exchange platforms level the playing field by easing the barriers around documentation and verification.

Platforms like Quidax, Valr, NairaEx, YellowCard, and BitLipa, among others, also support crypto trading in local currencies. They also make it easy for deposits and withdrawals to local banks and mobile money. Another innovative crypto exchange, Binusu, is pioneering USSD-based crypto exchange. This will allow Africans without smartphones or poor connectivity to also participate in the market.


The innovative nature of these Africa-centric platforms is opening the doors to new financial opportunities enabled by cryptocurrencies for the locals. These platforms are democratizing access to financial services and crypto markets by creating easy-to-use products that enable everyone to borrow, lend, save, invest, and exchange value.

With the rise of tailored blockchain-based solutions, financial inclusion is bound to grow exponentially within the African context. Rather than look outside, an internal self-assessment of prevailing challenges and available solutions is the key to unlocking Africa’s true potential in the global market. As such, more local solutions are the way to go for the transformation of Africa’s financial status by offering platforms that are people-centric and designed to overcome the region’s challenges.

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Arnold Mutunga

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