4 minutes

Africa Money and DeFi Summit: Banking the Bankless via the Hedera Network

Published By
Peter Mensah
October 24, 2023

The Hedera ecosystem champions the “banking the bankless” narrative at Africa’s leading fintech and crypto event.

Earlier this month, Pete Mensah (Director of Payments) attended the Africa Money and DeFi Summit alongside multiple Hedera ecosystem builders including Emtech, WiPay, and Flutterwave. 

This year, the conversation about “banking the continent’s bankless” was prevalent, with the subject mentioned in nearly every panel session and presentation. 

Banking the Bankless

The African continent has over 350 million people without access to banking but efficient distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) can help bring traditional financial services associated with banking to hundreds of millions of users at a much lower cost - all from their mobile phones.

For example, by leveraging stablecoins users can further enjoy the benefits of seamless value transfer without the high fees and processing times associated with legacy banking - particularly in the field of international remittances, which typically take between 1-10 days, only operate within traditional banking hours, without real-time traceability, and in pilots have been shown to cost $25.88-$74.80 in transaction fees. 

In comparison, the most recent Hedera stablecoin pilot with major banks, real-time settlement and real-time foreign exchange (FX) rate integration across the Thai Baht (THB), New Taiwan Dollar (NTD), and South Korean Won (KRW) showcased remittance transactions between South Korea and Taiwan that took on average 2.5 seconds and cost 5 cents in gas fees while being operational 24/7.

This built on the previous proof-of-concept with Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank, and the South African Rand (ZAR). 

Highlight 1: Emtech Hackathon with the Bank of Ghana

One of the most exciting announcements this year came from Hedera ecosystem builders and modern banking solution - Emtech.

Collaborating with the Bank of Ghana, both parties announced the launch of “eCedi Hackathon”, the hackathon leveraging the Hedera network: 

  • Local developers showcase their creativity and generate solutions to drive financial inclusion for those most in need.
  • The facilitation of #CBDC knowledge sharing amongst banks and payment service providers.
  • Networking opportunities and collaboration with other organizations and software developers across the CBDC domain.

Alongside this, the hackathon is aimed to help the Bank of Ghana to shape its wider decision around the eCedi.

Highlight 2: WiPay - ​​Connecting the Caribbean, Americas, and Africa on Hedera

The VOLT Network was announced last year by WiPay, the largest fintech in the Caribbean, as a settlement network between the Caribbean islands, the Americas, and now Africa. 

When a payment is sent between two Caribbean countries, the payment typically makes its way to one or multiple foreign banks, resulting in additional overhead fees and processing times.

Leveraging the Hedera network, the VOLT Network eliminates the need for third-party banks, enabling a citizen of one country to directly send money to another faster and at a lower cost, all from within the Colour Bank app.

WiPay demonstrated this by sending WiCoin, the Hedera Token Service (HTS) fiat-backed USD stablecoin, from Trinidad to Jamaica. Here, the Jamaican accounts were tied to WiPay Mastercard cards and the Trinidad accounts tied to Visa cards. 

Highlight 3: Flutterwave - “Enhancing Merchant Settlement On Hedera through Flutterwave”

Flutterwave, the highest valued fintech on the African continent at $3 billion, was the talk of Africa Money and DeFi Summit following the announcement that they are integrating Hedera USDC into their existing model. 

Flutterwave is an active participant in the Hedera Enterprise Program managed by The Hashgraph Association. 

In phase one, Flutterwave will integrate USDC on Hedera (hUSDC) to local fiat payouts, enabling users to deposit USDC into a wallet, and then send this hUSDC with Flutterwave handling the local currency payout.