The Director for Africa at the cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, Emmanuel Babalola, has suggested while speaking with Business and Financial Times that a wider cryptocurrency adoption is key to transforming and simplifying the ways people make payments on the continent. With cryptocurrencies, cross-border transactions – remittances and settlements – can be made more widely accessible and at a significantly reduced cost.
“Remittances, cross-border transfers and settlements are some of the biggest use-cases for crypto, as it innovates the way Africans make payments. The world is more connected than ever as people and businesses now operate across country lines. Current traditional banking can be limited in terms of how long transactions take, how much it costs, and the difficulties of exchanging currencies. Crypto simplifies all these, making it easier for people to make payments in a fraction of the time,” he explained.
Mr. Babalola added that beyond contributing to Africa’s much-needed payments transformation, cryptocurrencies serve as a key tool with which Africans can achieve freedom of money. According to him, cryptocurrencies and their underlying block-chain technology can be utilised in almost every area of life; and as such, many will continue to up-trend in the long-term and could prove to be a safety net for Africans.
“Cryptocurrency is a safety net for Africans, as the ability to transact on an immutable, censorship-resistant and permissionless block-chain that cannot be affected by hyperinflation – seen so often in African economies – is a huge step toward achieving self-sovereignty over their finances,” he said.
Africa’s crypto market continues to develop at a fast pace, as more people now either earn in crypto or have come to gradually accept it as a means of payment for goods and services. A recently released report by digital analytics firm ‘Chainalysis’ showed that the rate of cryptocurrency adoption on the continent grew by a remarkable 1,200% between July 2020 and June 2021 to US$105.6bn – making it the fastest-growing in the world.
Speaking about Binance’s role in initiating these transformations and adoptions within the crypto ecosystem in Africa, Emmanuel said that in addition to being a crypto exchange, the company works to build core facets of the blockchain ecosystem and contribute to wider industry infrastructure development.
So far, Binance has successfully introduced wide-ranging products such as the Binance NFT marketplace, Binance Launchpad, among others; with a focus on prioritising affordability, speed and accessibility to deepen the mass-adoption of crypto into the market.
The response to cryptocurrency and its regulation varies widely across regions. In places like China, there has been an aggressive crackdown on cryptocurrencies and exchanges. The tenor is different elsewhere, as watchdogs in the United States have accelerated moves toward the preliminary regulation.
Broaching the subject of cryptocurrency regulation, the Africa Director at Binance proposed deeper engagements with regulators – saying that the experience and know-how platforms such as his have acquired as a result of being self-regulatory will prove invaluable; particularly in a market like Ghana, which he described as “promising”.
“Crypto and even the regulation of crypto are such new concepts – just over a decade of existence. As such, many crypto stakeholders, including Binance, were self-regulating through KYC/AML policies when there was little clarity from regulators.
“Now, as regulators have shown an interest in the space, I believe regulatory collaboration with key stakeholders in the block-chain ecosystem is essential. We at Binance are actively keeping abreast of ever-changing policies in the crypto industry, and continue to take a collaborative approach in working with regulators. Together, we can find the optimal way to set a fair playing field, since consumer protection is important to all of us.”