Cryptocurrencies can help Nigeria achieve cashless policy plan — Maurice
Chris Maurice is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Yellow Card, a Nigeria-based cryptocurrency company expanding its reach to the Middle East and other African countries. In this interview with MUHAIMIN OLOWOPOROKU, he speaks about the prospect of cryptocurrency in Nigeria
WHAT is your business about?
I am Chris Maurice, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Yellow Card.
Yellow Card is a crypto exchange for Nigeria and other parts of Africa and the Middle East. We are committed to making Bitcoin, USDT, and other cryptocurrencies accessible to anyone. You can exchange naira for BTC through our website, mobile app, or in cash at one of our Yellow Card Merchant stores.
Yellow Card is the easiest and most convenient way to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as no bank account is required.
How did it all start and what inspired you?
Originally, we were building this company for the United States market. Then, one day, we met a man at a bank in the U.S. who was sending $200 to his family in Nigeria. The bank charged him $90 to send $200 to his family. We pulled the man aside and taught him about Bitcoin. It’s free, it’s instant. But then we thought, “What would his family in Nigeria do with $200 worth of Bitcoin?”
After thinking more about the issue, we started speaking with Munachi, now our CBO. He encouraged us to come to Nigeria to experience the problem first-hand. So, we bought our tickets—the first time I had ever left the United States—and came to Lagos to stay with Munachi.
Tell us about Bitcoin and its prospect in Nigeria.
I tell everyone that Bitcoin and crypto will take hold in a major way in Africa before it does anywhere else. Cryptocurrency solves very real problems that people across the continent and the rest of the emerging world face every day around ease of use and security of money, wealth, etc.
Bitcoin is the easiest way to make payments, support friends and family that live afar, and save and secure the long-term value of your money. That’s why we’ve seen such interest and adoption for Bitcoin in Nigeria and across the African continent.
Bitcoin has another wonderful prospect in Nigeria as more than half of its population are youths and also internet enabled and tech savvy. After several challenges of the naira and dollar rate, this set of people will begin to look at alternate ways of keeping and spending money which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies provide.
Being an emerging sector in the world and Nigeria, how well has Yellow Card thrived in the country?
Operating in Nigeria is definitely unlike anywhere else in the world! It’s a bunch of unique challenges and opportunities that don’t exist anywhere else, especially with the impact that emerging technology can have to help the country grow. Yellow Card right now is one of the largest exchanges in the country, and we’re excited to keep growing thanks to the support of a great community and great people who love our service.
By and large also, the crypto space in the country is also beginning to develop. Outside Yellow Card there are also other crypto start-ups springing up in the country and are doing well. Just like Yellow Card they provide several crypto services to Nigerians.
What government policies do you think need to be changed or put in place for Yellow Card and similar start-ups to thrive in Nigeria?
I think that the current landscape has given us the opportunity to start a company, hire, operate, and contribute to the growth of the overall economy. I think that the government and the CBN are moving towards more formal regulations and policies around the crypto space, which will certainly help to promote the growth and encourage us to continue and increase our investment in the country. We want Nigeria to be our headquarters for the entire Africa and Middle Eastern region.
Businesses like Yellow Card and others could also assist Nigeria with its cashless policy it aims to achieve. Bitcoin alongside other cryptocurrencies could be an alternate way for people to spend, send and store money instead of the traditional way of moving everywhere with fiat currencies. With Bitcoin, Nigerians can electronically store and send money in a way that is safer, faster and more secure.
Also, Nigeria being the giant of Africa needs to begin taking steps towards adopting its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) as that is the way other developed nations are looking at currently. China leads the race in CBDC adoption alongside other countries like Singapore, Russia etc also taking steps towards creating a local CBDC.
What advice do you have for crypto enthusiasts and investors in Nigeria?
Nigeria is reported to be the country with the highest transactions in Bitcoin across Africa.
Buying Bitcoin in Nigeria has also become an easy venture unlike in the past where you had to convert the Naira to the Dollar before making Bitcoin transactions.
I would say now is the best possible time to get into the space. The crypto industry is growing rapidly, especially in Nigeria. There are a lot of opportunities to use Blockchain to solve problems across Nigeria, Africa, and the world. We would love to see more Blockchain projects coming out of Lagos and Nigeria, and I’m always happy to work with local entrepreneurs to make sure that their projects are accessible through our Naira-to-crypto on-ramps.
Also, with Bitcoin said to be the future of money, enthusiasts should begin to look into the future and begin to proffer solutions Bitcoin might face when it eventually becomes a household currency in Nigeria.
What would you say to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria?
If you have a problem, you are the best person to solve it. Whatever that problem is, I guarantee that you are not the only one experiencing it and going through it. Take that frustration, and turn it into an opportunity to help yourself, help your friends, and help your community.
I also advise that entrepreneurs in the country be hard working, resilient and consistent at what they do because there are a lot of challenges they would face from clients, staff, competitors etc. They should be hard, tough and creative to manage these challenges and continue to win.
Also, the Nigerian business space is a unique one, entrepreneurs who are thriving and able to survive in the country should look at expansion because if they can thrive in Nigeria then they can thrive in other countries in the world.