On Friday the 13th of September, Nairametrics sat down with the Chief Executive Officer of Quidax, Buchi Okoro, to discuss Quidax’s rising reputation in the cryptocurrency space and what to expect from Africa’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and possibly the continent’s next billion-dollar crypto startup.
Why is Quidax in crypto?
The journey into crypto started a while back with me actually getting ripped off while trying to buy cryptocurrency with Naira, as well as my co-founder Uzo Awili receiving Bitcoin for his work as a developer with no way to convert it to naira. Now multiply that by the thousands of people having these same issues and it becomes clear that the big why for us was to fill a real market need and the opportunity to be a part of the greatest revolution to finance and money in the past 200 years. That is golden.
At what point did Quidax seem viable?
We started initially with the crude (so it seemed at the time) idea of organizing a Whatsapp group where people bought and sold crypto between themselves. This was in 2016, at some point it was like oh, this is something and we sat down to do the math. People where moving serious numbers through that group, it was at that point we knew there was a demand for a reliable and seamless way to buy and sell cryptocurrency. We can say that was when we knew Quidax was viable but it wasn’t Quidax then.
What is Quidax doing that is unique?
Firstly, we settle to local bank accounts instantly, the earliest we have seen is 4 hours settlement time-spanning up to 72 hours, this literally means that you can’t save a life if you wanted to use a crypto transaction.
Secondly, we are building the infrastructure that powers crypto-fiat transactions across Africa which means you can now build a crypto application into your product or service powered by our infrastructure. If you want your users to buy, sell or store crypto on your product, or simply operate a cryptocurrency wallet, you can easily do that by integrating with our plug-and-play APIs.
What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?
The thing I love most about the team is that they are crazy enough to think they can do anything. We always joke that if we knew what it would take we might never have gone into it but beyond that, there is a huge sense of trust, discipline and fellowship within the team and that is important because the journey is long and the demands are heavy.
We are solving the problem because there is equal parts experience, excitement and discipline within the team.
In your opinion, do you think cryptocurrency can transform Africa?
Yes, I do, and that is because Africa has a track record of leapfrogging. It happened with telecommunication, with mobile money and now with financial transactions. The promise of crypto is the ability to transfer value from point A to B efficiently, seamlessly and cheaply. We see cryptocurrency as the technology that could make doing business across and with Africa easier, cheaper, faster and more efficient. Crypto would open Africa to the world economically in the way the internet did.
What is Quidax’s unfair competitive advantage and why will it be sustained?
12 hours to 2 minutes. That’s the amount of time we have reduced settlement to the local bank account and we have been able to do that because of our integrations into the major banks, it took us 10 months to get this right.
We support businesses that transact with cryptocurrency and want to offer crypto services to their customers in the way no other player does.
Here’s a question I have been meaning to ask, what can people do with cryptocurrency?
In some countries, you can use cryptocurrencies to pay for everyday goods and services. The likes of Starbucks and retailer Walmart are among those that accept cryptocurrency as payment.
In Nigeria, very soon, customers would be able to pay for everyday stuff using cryptocurrency. One of the businesses we support, Fliqpay, has been on this journey for a while and it is finally coming to light. So you would be able to buy airtime, movie tickets, pay for pizza and even cars using cryptocurrency.
What has Quidax achieved so far?
The first of August this year made it 1 year since we launched our public beta. In that time we have processed over 110 Million US Dollars in transaction volume and we serve users in 70 countries and 6 continents but we are still yet to scratch the surface. We want to support more businesses looking to offer cryptocurrency services and help drive its education and adoption in Africa.
What does the next 5 years look like for Quidax?
In the next 5 years, we expect to be covering at least 40 countries in Africa and powering remittance in and out of Africa. We also expect that at that time we would have achieved our goal of being the go-to African partner for anything cryptocurrency related.
What’s a typical day at Quidax like?
A typical day at Quidax could go from calling users to understand the issues they are facing and then turning that feedback into actionable steps that could end up as new product features or an upgrade to an existing feature. However, the best part of my day is taking a look at our metrics to understand how users are daily engaging with Quidax and what we can do to optimize that experience for them.
What’s in Quidax’s pipeline? What features can users expect from Quidax in the next 1 year?
A couple of our plans for the next year are hush-hush. Although I can tell you what to expect over the next month. In about 3 weeks we will be launching our mobile app but sometime before then, we will be kicking off a partnership with a liquidity provider. With the partnership, people can trade higher amounts of cryptocurrency on Quidax. The most exciting part of next month is that we will be entering into some partnerships that would change the face of crypto-remittance in Africa.
Who are your competitors, and how are you different?
While there are a number of cryptocurrency exchanges in Africa none of them is on our trajectory. That is taking an active approach to solving remittance problem by providing liquidity and taking on the challenges of building out the required infrastructure to power remittance in a way no one is thinking about it today. In all honesty, we need more competitors looking at this problem with each coming up with a unique and innovative way to tackle the problem. At the end of the day, it’s a win-win for everyone.
What’s your biggest threat?
Our biggest threat is regulation. Don’t get me wrong we are not against regulation, we are currently in line with Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundry (AML) best practices for financial institutions. Rather, regulation without a proper understanding of the cryptocurrency space is what we are wary of.
Although we are definitely in support of cryptocurrency regulations to ensure a safe climate for users. We would rather it is done with players in the space at the table to ensure innovation isn’t stifled just when it is starting to grow.