Chris Maurice is CEO at Yellow Card, a Nigeria-based cryptocurrency company expanding its reach to other African countries as a true crypto pioneer. Today, the company has grown very quickly across the continent with over 40,000 merchants. BusinessDay’s community lead and cryptocurrency analyst Lucky Nwanekwu discusses topical crypto issues with Maurice who shares his experience and insights on the future of the Blockchain industry in Nigeria.
Tell us how you started Yellow Card?
I founded Yellow Card with Justin Poiroux in 2016 with the intent to create a Bitcoin gift card in the U.S. The company was running smoothly, but in 2018 Justin and I met a man at a Wells Fargo who was trying to send $200 to his family in Nigeria. The bank charged the man $90. We found this outrageous. So we approached Munachi Ogueke to learn everything we could about the crypto community in Nigeria and Africa.
Munachi told us if we were serious about working in Africa, we had to come here – so on a few weeks notice, we bought two one-way tickets to Lagos—the first time I had ever left the United States. It was quite the experience.
We decided to dedicate ourselves fully to making Bitcoin more accessible in Africa, and since then we’ve grown very quickly across the continent with over 40,000 merchants signed up in Nigeria and several million dollars in transactions every week. Now we’re adding alternative currencies and expanding rapidly outside of Nigeria.
How much of a game-changer is the Blockchain industry to the world?
What a question! The industry has revolutionized how banks work, created entirely new market spaces, and provided financial freedom to everyone (including the billions of unbanked). It’s made a lot of people rich, and it’s given a lot more people freedoms that they never knew existed!
What is your outlook for this industry over the next 10 years?
I think cryptocurrency is reaching an age of maturity where its use-cases are starting to be thoroughly discovered. A lot of experiments are coming to an end and everyone is figuring out where the space will go next. Within 10 years, it will be mainstream. I’m not saying that Bitcoin will replace fiat currency or anything like that, but banks, governments, and other organizations that aren’t already diving in will be over the next decade.
Will the Blockchain Industry have a huge impact on Africa?
Unquestionably! In fact, I think its biggest effects will be in Africa. You only have to look at unstable fiat currencies and the lack of adequate banking for many people to see a space for cryptocurrency to come in. That’s what we’re here for providing financial freedom and stability for those who have been previously left behind. That’s what Blockchain and Yellow Card were built for.
How will the recent halving of the Bitcoin affect the industry?
Maybe this is a boring answer, but honestly, I think the halving was more of a nerdy event than anything that will impact the average Bitcoin holder or the markets long term. Bitcoin is powerful and trending up for several reasons, and the halving is just one of them.
What concerns about the future of blockchain keeps you up at night?
My biggest concern has always been that I worry people will look past the amazing technology of blockchain and only focus on the get-rich-quick dreams. Getting rich is great. Changing the world is even better.
What is the greatest challenge have you faced running the company?
Meeting demand! We’re constantly expanding and growing. The desire for the cryptocurrency is alive and well in Africa, and we’re here to meet it in every country and corner.
What surprising thing have you learnt so far this year amid the coronavirus pandemic?
People are really concerned about having toilet paper!
Where do you see Yellow Card in ten years?
Yellow Card will be something like the Coinbase of Africa. The African cryptocurrency market and the user base is entering a renaissance, and Yellow Card will be right there with them.
What favourite projects do you hold?
Definitely, our expansion projects to new countries. We love Nigeria, but we’re also very excited as we enter the markets of South Africa and Botswana.