Interswitch & Interstellar to develop blockchain infrastructure services across Africa

Interswitch, one of Africa’s foremost unicorns and leading integrated payments companies has partnered with Interstellar, an enterprise Blockchain infrastructure services company to develop blockchain-powered infrastructure services and solutions across Africa.

Why this is important

Cryptocurrency adoption has grown on the continent has grown significantly.

A recent report by Chainanalysis, a blockchain analysis company that provides research data to government agencies, exchanges and financial institutions revealed that between July 2020 and June 2021, Africa’s cryptocurrency market grew by 1,200 per cent.

With a whopping $105.6 billion transactions, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania represents the bulk of these transactions and Bitcoin is the most traded coin.

This move is significant for both companies to position as a leading enabler of continent-wide transactions.

A bitcoin user checks the receipts after buying bitcoins with naira on Bitcoin Teller Machine in Lagos, Nigeria September 1, 2020. Picture taken September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Seun Sanni
A bitcoin user checks the receipts after buying bitcoins with naira on Bitcoin Teller Machine in Lagos, Nigeria September 1, 2020. Picture taken September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Seun Sanni

Ernest Mbenkum, Founder and CEO at Interstellar, commented:

“We are delighted to have established this strategic partnership with Interswitch, one of Africa’s most valuable fintech businesses. This marks the genesis of an innovative and collaborative partnership aimed at delivering impact-focused and enterprise-grade blockchain-powered services across the African continent.”

Digital currencies are set to become the standard currency of making payments with central banks looking to create their own indigenous coins. For instance, in spite of banning bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)is set to roll out its own unique digital currency revealing how potential exists.

How will this work?

The two companies have been carrying blockchain-related research for the past 2 years and the partnership will see Interstellar’s Blockchain technology stack integrated with Interswitch’s industry-leading payments and digital commerce technology.

Customers queue for mobile money transfers inside the Safaricom mobile phone care centre in Nairobi

It will be an integration of both technologies to enable enterprise users of Interswitch’s services to make bitcoin payments across the 5 African countries where-in they operate, creating ease for blockchain payments across Africa and facilitate trade within the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

How will this change the game?

For safe, secure and swifts transactions to occur, there has to be an existing baseline infrastructure to enable seamless payments. This is like the relationship between a train and the train tracks.

Interswitch & Interstellar Unite To Develop Blockchain Infrastructure Services in Africa.

Akeem Lawal, Divisional Chief Executive Officer for Transaction Switching and Payment Processing at Interswitch commented:

“We are excited to partner with Interstellar on this journey and we look forward to the amazing things we will achieve together in the African market. This will enable us to progressively digitize multiple industry value-chains across African markets whilst also supporting the actualization of the Pan African Payment Ecosystem, riding the wave of opportunities created by such initiatives as the AfCFTA.”

The partnership is also strategic as it lays a good foundation for the anticipated Pan African Payment Ecosystem (PAPE) which will be powered by a private blockchain network. This will involve a consortium of Banks and Fintech players. With a network like this, payments will be swift and leading to increased efficiency.

With businesses looking to expand to new territories and countries, strategic partnerships such as these will help promote connectivity and promote cryptocurrency payments eradicating issues of settlement and dependency on hard currencies and currency fluctuations.

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