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Technology

New digital currency targets Africa trade and remittances

 Tony Ferreira
Safcoin founders Tony Ferreira, the chief operating officer, Michela Ferreira, the chief communications officer and Neil Ferreira, the chief executive. PHOTO | COURTESY 

During the winter of 2017 in South Africa, a family was casually discussing the future of the country’s ecommerce business. But in the process, some important topics came up.

The discussion graduated to brainstorming stage, and the idea of creating a cryptocurrency not only for their country but for all African countries, was conceptualised.

A digital coin was born and named Safcoin. It is an e-commerce crypto payment gateway that offers free transactions to merchants, and was launched on July 1, 2019.

The digital currency is among those that are targeting Africa where Kenya, Botswana and South Africa are listed by cryptocurrency monitoring sites as the leading markets on the continent.

Neil Ferreira became the chief executive, his brother Tony Ferreira, the chief operating officer and his wife Michela Ferreira, the chief communications officer of the company.

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The trio have come up with an African cryptocurrency that has been merged with e-commerce to help small businesses and individual traders excel in the Fourth Industrial Revolution while enjoying the power of blockchain technology.

“We will soon launch an exclusive crypto market place where African micro jobs and small businesses can all be listed and combined.

“When we created Safcoin, we had a vision to disrupt the market with a digital currency, wallet, and exchange platform that was developed by Africans, for Africans,” said CEO Neil Ferreira when he spoke to Business Daily.

The whole idea around Safcoin is to eliminate the middleman who make online trading costly, and are mostly located outside Africa, and this coin seeks to give the continent crypto autonomy in digital payments.

Although Africa experiences similar challenges to developed markets, like financial instability, economic downturns, with a large portion of the population being excluded from formal financial systems, it has to deal with hefty shockwaves in fintech.

But how different is it from global cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple?

“Safcoin is an exclusive Africa crypto; our focus is solely on Africa, to be a payment digital coin on the e-commerce industry and also giving crypto traders a chance to trade on our exclusive African exchange, sending remittances on a peer-to-peer platform without charges,” says Mr Feffeira.

The crypto aims to be a digital ecosystem for the 1.3 billion people in Africa, connecting emerging markets to the world of mobile commerce, boosting financial inclusion and non-cash remittances.

“We have 11,000 members, we have only launched our African US dollar exchange on July 1 and will now be focusing on trading in all African currencies.”

Safcoins can be purchased or traded on the Safcoin exchange with low fees, USD to SAF (SAFCOIN), USD to BTC (Bitcoin) and BTC to SAF trading pairs. Sending Safcoins to anyone is free.

The team says it is already following KYC (know your customer) control procedures to ensure that the Safcoin eco-system remains a friendly and safe environment for its users and free from money laundering or terrorist financing activities.

Users can store their Safcoin and Bitcoin using the Safcoin mobile wallet. They can buy or trade crypto-currency, stay up to date with the latest news — all on the palm of their hand.

About Africa’s preparedness for cryptocurrency, the innovator says that although Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe have recorded double-digit inflation, they are listed among the main crypto markets on the continent by gobitcoin.io.

The cryptocurrency monitoring website also lists Botswana, Kenya and South Africa among the top markets in Africa, while Uganda gets a special attention for its growing adoption of cryptocurrency.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if other countries with double-digit inflation like Sudan, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, also appear on that list soon,” he remarks.

Cryptocurrency adoption is clearly growing in Africa and by 2020, according to the GSM Association, Africa will have 725 million mobile subscribers, literally putting the tools needed to access the cryptocurrency ecosystem at people’s fingertips.

The founders have 30 years’ experience in software development, e-commerce, search engine optimization, online marketing, graphic design, printing and web development.

Cryptocurrency has the power to drastically reduce financial bottlenecks and will help individuals in Africa to participate in economies outside their immediate communities. This means that they can now connect with fellow Africans easily and help their small business grow, send non-cash remittance and become financially included.

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