Cross-border mobile money startup, Chipper Cash, is rolling out stablecoins to help settle transactions across countries.
The company offers mobile-based, no fee, P2P payment services in seven countries:
In a panel discussion composed of other African solutions leveraging blockchain, Wiza Jalakasi, Global Developer Relations VP at Chipper Cash, highlighted the challenges in cross-border transactions that he believes stablecoins can help solve.
A key Financial hurdle for cross-border trade across the continent is having to use the dollar for conversions between two currency pairs. This is expensive because of unfavorable rates and cost of conversations.
Wiza notes that in a month, Chipper Cash can move between $80 million – $100 million across African currency pairs. He adds that it is very expensive to use the US dollar for conversions back and forth.
A specific challenge Chipper Cash faces is not having a balance of liquidiity to facilitate transactions between currency pairs.
Wiza points out the example of a popular cross-border transactions route between Nigeria and Uganda. In one day, Chipper Cash may have too much Ugandan Shillings (UGX) in their reserves and too much Naira in Nigeria on the next.
As such, a key concern for the company is how to move money quickly without having to do expensive USD conversions. Another problem he also noted is that most forex bureaus lack an exchange rate between the two currency pairs.
That’s where stablecoins come in.
These are digital assets secured on a blcokchain and typically pegged to fiat, thanks to finacnials assets held in custody.
Here are the advantages that stablecoins present to a firm like Chipper Cash:
Stablecoins often have a direct conversion rate between the currency pairs
Stabelcoins also offer much cheaper conversions
However, a key challenge faced by Chipper Cash and other firms who are set to employ stablecoins in their work is that authorities are unfamiliar and suspicious. Since their service partners with banks, Wiza indicates that they may not be comfortable working with stablecoins.
Tori Samples, Co-Founder and CTO at Leaf Global Fintech, a mobile money solution that works across East Africa, with a significant focus on transactions for refugees
Rick Groothuizen, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Clickpesa, a B2B payments platform connecting companies to mutliple wallets and services
The panelists pointed out that working with authorities to facilitate new technologies was a challenge. However, there was seeming agreement that as the value proposition of stablecoins becomes clearer in major economies, we can expect friendliness from regulators over the coming years.