Round 11
Winner
Kotani Pay

Stablecoin payments without the need for an Internet connection or a bank account

Budget request:  
$100,000
*
WebsiteCode

Project Stage

Development

Category

Cross-Border Payments

Based in

Nairobi

Team size

4

Active since

2020
Products & Services

Kotani Pay API

The Kotani Pay API enables businesses to convert between digital assets and fiat and receive that through local payment channels in Africa. The API provides a single codebase for business with this need. This means businesses can receive money into mobile money or bank accounts in minutes over the Stellar Blockchain through the API.


Kotani Pay SMS/USSD Wallet

The Kotani Pay non-custodial wallet enables both non-internet enabled and internet enabled devices to interact with Blockchain protocols such as Stellar. The user simply dials a short code and is able to transact on the Stellar network. With the SMS wallet, one can receive, send, withdraw and access DeFi services.


We use the stellar blockchain to hold the digital assets on-chain (The blockchain provides holding accounts for wallet users. The user interacts with the on-chain wallet through a USSD interface. Additionally, the Stellar blockchain acts as the transfer layer for on-chain remittance, cash-transfers, cross-border and gig-work transactions. A user sends funds from their blockchain account to another user’s account via Stellar.

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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far
Goals
  • Active in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia, with at least 10,000 users and monthly gross transactional volumes of $3 Million.
To get there, we  will use our requested budget of  
$100,000
*
  to:
  • We are working on obtaining licenses to smoothen operations in the various jurisdictions including securing intellectual property and obtaining payment service provider licenses.
  • We are making new hires to improve our sales and marketing in the target jurisdictions. Because we are a lean team, technical support will enable us to scale faster.
Overview

PROBLEM & SOLUTION

In the process of educating communities in Africa on the benefits of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies,  we realized many of them were essentially locked out because the technology doesn't work for them. This is because most public Blockchain networks build with the smartphone user in mind.


Of the 770 million people in Africa with a mobile phone, 440 million do not have an internet-enabled device. Feature phones are the predominant phone type used in  Africa.  Current blockchain apps require devices with large storage capacity, access to the internet and intuitive knowledge for use.


Without sufficient storage space on phones, users have to prioritize the applications they download. Users prefer messaging applications like WhatsApp, We realized that for a blockchain application to be successful they needed to overcome this challenge. The users do not have access to unlimited or affordable internet connection services making it expensive to run transactions through an app. These complexities make onboarding cumbersome


Kotani Pay is a solution with a focus on financial inclusion and empowerment. Our mission is to serve as a frictionless bridge between digital assets and fiat currencies for new adopters in search of alternative payment systems.


Kotani Pay enables users to access the blockchain via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD). USSD is the primary mode of the mobile interface for a majority of the population in developing countries.The advantage of leveraging USSD technology is that there is no need for storage space on the user's phone, no need for an internet connection and simplicity of use of the solution.


TARGET MARKET

Kotani Pay offers software tools, technologies and frameworks for blockchain protocols, decentralized applications, blockchain companies and fintech companies looking to connect to users on the continent. Our services, therefore, target different segments;


The humanitarian Space

There is a growing need by humanitarian and non-governmental organizations to offer universal basic payments and remittances to refugees and other vulnerable populations through the use of digital assets. As a typical use case, refugees in humanitarian camps such as Kakuma and Dadaab camps in Kenya receive payments of $1 a day per user through partner organizations such as the World Food Programme and MercyCorps Ventures, easily reaching the end user via Kotani Pay.


The Gig Worker Market

The global gig economy is currently valued at $193 Billion, and it is projected to grow at 17.4% annually.  The Kenyan gig economy was valued at $19.7 Billion in 2019. Kotani Pay will make revenue from processing payments for digital gig work platforms serving three main categories of digital gig work namely: Online FreeLancing, Crowdsourcing & Microwork.


While crypto adoption is increasing, a great challenge in Africa is the problem of low internet connectivity. Unlike mobile money services, most cryptocurrency wallets require internet connectivity to send/receive transactions. Only 39.9% of the African population have some form of internet access,. 7 African countries have internet penetration rates below 10%.


Kotani Pay offers a solution that does not require internet connectivity, serving P2P traders with or without internet connectivity on the continent.


Savings and Lending Market

There are approximately 1.7 billion unbanked adults globally, the majority of whom tend to be young, of the female gender, from poorer households, with a low educational attainment, and out of the labour force. 50% of the 1 Billion people in Africa are under 20, with limited access to financial services to this young population. To meet their financial needs, many Africans opt to create and join small groups where users save together and enable small loans with interest to the group. These groups are correctly referred to and formally recognized as Savings And Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs).

SACCOs help people save and invest, and raise capital for their needs. SACCOs have over 14 million members in Kenya, with $6 Billion in deposits and $8 billion in assets. In Uganda, over 520,000 adults in 2019 were SACCO members.


Kotani Pay enables savings group members served by platforms such as Savings Circles and BezoMoney to save effectively, receive bulk capital through group savings and build a savings and credit history to access formal financial services. Users can withdraw to their mobile money accounts, and apply for loans from the savings group. By offering the blockchain-to-fiat backend service, we anticipate to serve the savings and lending market that is connected to the crypto ecosystem.


REVENUE MODEL

Our business model is a business-to-business-to-customer (B2B2C) model and we charge transaction fees on value transacted on our platform or consultancy fees on advisory services.

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Links:
Kotani Pay

A technology stack that enables users to access stablecoins using feature phones and low-end smartphones just as well as smartphones even in low internet connectivity settings and without the need for a bank account.

Team

Felix Macharia (FelixKP#4521)

CEO

Key competencies in entrepreneurship, strategy and research


Felix was an affiliate scholar in the Institute of Blockchain Studies in 2017 where his main focus was around rent seeking ERC20 tokens during the "ICO Boom". Felix later co founded EOS Nairobi in 2018, a node validation company that currently offers validator services to the EOS, Telos and


ICON networks. He has worked as the head of operations for EOS Nairobi from 2018 to present. Felix also represents EOS Nairobi as a co-trustee of the Africa Digital Asset Foundation (ADAF), a non profit organization built by african Blockchain startups in 2018 to develop protocols, frameworks and standards to enable blockchain adoption on the African continent. He is currently the CEO of Kotani Pay.

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/felix-macharia-a01621154/

Twitter https://twitter.com/felixmacharia_


Samuel Kariuki (Sam | KotaniPay#3572)

COO

Key competencies in community management and customer success


Sam was introduced to Blockchain in 2018. With his expertise in immersive technologies and design, he took part in an incentivised urban planning program that strived to create a merger of Virtual and Mixed reality with blockchain. His experience with community outreach led to his appointment as a community manager for Icon Blockchain protocol, where he was tasked with growth, monitoring and assessment of blockchain communities. Sam is currently the community manager of Kotani Pay.

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/samuel-kariuki-/


Elijah Githinji (Elijah#3612)

CTO

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/elijah-g-98277873/


Keith Mandela (Mandela - KotaniPay#3808)

CFO

Key competencies in accounting, audit and company documentation


Mandela has worked with EOS Nairobi, a validator on the EOS network for close to two years. During this same period, he worked on setting up the African Digital Assets Foundation and served as the Community Manager. He served as the Head of Research and Strategy at IConnect Global, a validator on the ICON Blockchain.

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/keith-mandela-95697b11c/


Brian Kimotho (Brian | Kotani Pay#6093)

CMO

Key competencies in branding, social media, and marketing


Brian first heard about Blockchain during his campus days but missed out on the opportunity to join at the time. He was reintroduced in 2017 during a series of in-person Blockchain meetups. Brian has worked at EOS Nairobi as a volunteer and a community manager. He was part of 1 of 3 teams - Ubuntu Energy Ledger, that participated in the global EOS Hackathon series and later participated in the Grand Finale. He was a community manager and marketing lead at EOS Nairobi. Brain is currently working as the Marketing lead at Kotani Pay.

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-kimotho/

Twitter https://twitter.com/abriankim