In what has become a de facto world tour of crypto hot spots, this week “Money Reimagined” is headed to Nigeria.
We talked to two Nigerian entrepreneurs – Yele Bademosi, the CEO of payments app Bundle Africa, and Adia Sowho, a venture builder and operator – about the burgeoning crypto innovation ecosystem in their country.
Among this entertaining pair’s many insights was the idea the Nigerian Central Bank’s February order that banks shut down crypto companies’ access ended up being a positive for the industry. It spurred even more innovation in the space, inspiring local developers to dream up interesting new decentralized solutions for getting around the banking sector’s gatekeepers.
The idea dovetails with some we’ve heard from other guests – from Democracy Earth’s Santiago Siri, for example, who spoke of how the startup scene in his native Argentina is shaped and driven by the failure of the existing financial system and the efforts by authorities there to constrain people’s financial freedom.
It shows how the crypto world has fostered a new breed of developer-entrepreneur, one who no longer wants to work to change the existing system but is inspired to build entire new alternatives to it.
We also learned from Bademosi and Sowho that the narratives the crypto community in the industrialized world tend to embrace about the technology’s value in the developing world are often misplaced. It’s convenient for people in the U.S. to talk up the idea that Nigerian activists were using bitcoin during the anti-government protests last year or that it is being used widely as a remittance and payments vehicle. But our guests point out those use cases aren’t as widespread as believed and that, much like in the U.S, most Nigerians are for now buying bitcoin as a store of value.
On the other hand, they tell us Nigeria specifically – and Africa generally – is a hotbed of innovation in DeFi. And why not? The opportunities for experimentation and creativity for decentralized finance are arguably much greater in places where the existing financial system is underdeveloped.
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