While the emergence of cryptocurrencies has led to many exciting possibilities in the payment landscape, it still faces a challenge of mass adaptation. In response to the inability for existing blockchain platforms to push for mainstream cryptocurrency adoption. Mazzuma has created a mobile application, with a simple and easy to interface that has been designed and tested to handle millions of transactions per second, speedily and securely.
Mazzuma is committed to enhancing the payment landscape in Africa to include the unbanked. Our mission is to utilize mobile-money and blockchain technology to address the limitations of the banking and remittance industry. Mazzuma, therefore, expanded its ecosystem through the creation of its in-house payment token called MAZ Token. The token addresses pain points like high transaction fees, inferior proofs of identity and transmission limits. Transactions made on our app are instant with a simple user interface which enhances the usability of cryptocurrencies by addressing issues of user experience and slow transaction confirmation times.
Today, there are over two billion people who do not have bank accounts or access to other financial services, mostly in developing nations. Individuals who face financial exclusion face several challenges, including theft of cash and the inability to access formal employment due to lack of a bank account. Those without bank accounts also incur additional fees when cashing cheques that can often be up to 10% compared to someone who has a bank account. Mobile money has significantly impacted the efforts to extend access to the unbanked and financially excluded. Currently, there are close to 700 million active mobile money users across the world, with the highest growth coming from Kenya, Ghana and nations in South-East Asia. With more people having mobile phones than a bank account in the global south, mobile money has become a viable solution in tackling financial exclusion.
The Mazzuma token can be used in the following ways:
1. International remittance transfers
2. Peer-to-peer payments
The proceeds of the IEO will be used to expand the infrastructure and network of the Mazzuma ecosystem. By enrolling more merchants, partners and service providers, this strategy will enable the user base of the platform to grow exponentially.
The list below enumerates the allocation of funds for the project:
Marketing and PR - 25%
Merchant Acquisition - 20%
Further Network Expansion - 15%
Research and Development - 40%
We are a dedicated team with over 10 years combined experience in creating world class payment systems for underserved markets in the emerging world.
We have a team of software engineers and project managers who have built Mazzuma to become one of the fastest growing fintechs in Africa with millions of dollars processed in transaction volume. Our dedicated team will be supervising the execution of the Mazzuma Token and its expansion to various territories and markets.
Our main competitive advantage is our proposition of cost-free transactions. This greatly drives the patronage of our services in our local payment ecosystem. Currently, other competitors charge between 0.5% to 7% on each transaction made. As a result, we are an attractive alternative in the mobile payment space. In addition to this, our multi-channel approach to delivering our services to our customers through our AI-enabled automated chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Telegram, our companion keyboard which allows users to send payments in apps like WhatsApp and our world-class mobile app makes a unique choice for payments in our market. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, ours is much simpler to use due to a more intuitive user interface. Also, users can make transactions using their simple usernames, as compared to the conventional complicated wallet addresses found in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
An internal risk our company could face is cyber attacks. In occasion of such threats, we manage it by using mitigation measures such as proxy forwarding, firewall implementation, distributed systems architecture and data sanitization including others. Another risk we can encounter is the risk of data manipulation by bad actors. We mitigate this through the use of a blockchain to store both mobile money and cryptocurrency transactions making them immutable. For external risks, government or regulatory policies and general economic factors affect our business. We do our best to incorporate contingency plans in our business models to enable the business to thrive in the ever-change world of commerce
After the IEO has been completed and the Mazzuma Token has been listed, the remittance partners will start sending payments globally using the Mazzuma Token. This will drive the growth of the ecosystem and bring positive returns to early token investors.
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Ghanaian mobile money app Mazzuma plotting move into crypto
Ghanaian fintech startup Mazzuma is planning on getting more involved in the cryptocurrencies space after seeing positive uptake of its mobile money-based payments app.
Launched in 2017 by school friends Nii-Osae Osae-Dade and Kofi Genfi, Mazzuma allows customers to purchase airtime, pay bills, and send and receive money across mobile networks, bringing interoperability to the mobile money ecosystem.
“Mazzuma was initially inspired by the need to build world-class payments software, with international standards but for the local market. Most international systems did not take into consideration the perspective of most developing and emerging markets, which is the gap Mazzuma seeks to address,” Osae-Dade told Disrupt Africa.
The app allows for instant payments and charges no transaction fees, instead charging operators a commission. Mazzuma has also developed AI-powered chatbots that allow individuals to use its services on Facebook and Telegram without downloading its app.
In just over two years, the startup has built a user base of 27,000 people, and transacted over US$5 million, making it the third largest payments app in Ghana. Transaction volumes are up 40 per cent month-on-month, while Mazzuma has sold almost 60,000 of its MAZ tokens – which enable seamless cross-border, P2P payments – globally.
All of this has been achieved without external funding.
“Mazzuma powers remittance companies to help disseminate money from the Netherlands, the UK and other parts of Europe into mobile money accounts in Ghana,” said Genfi.
“Our MAZ token has been purchased in several African countries, Brazil and Portugal.”
The next phase will see Mazzuma attempt to bridge the gap between the significant economic benefits of mobile money and the innovation of cryptocurrencies.
“After making efforts to achieve financial inclusion and interoperability in our market, Mazzuma is ready to share our services and innovation with the international market by creating the Mazzuma token,” Osae-Dade said.
“The MAZ token will be the key payment medium in the Mazzuma ecosystem. It has gone through three rounds of pre-sales and it currently in the process of being listed.”
A major challenge the team faced early on was convincing all four telecommunications companies operating in Ghana to partner for the product, which came with associated ageism.
“Many people give much prominence to age, feeling that one has to attain a particular age before he can be trusted to do particular work. And that was the exact situation we encountered with some of the industry players,” Genfi said.
“In our initial efforts, it was hard approaching the telecommunications companies because we were 18 or 19 year old guys. And so some of them didn’t take us seriously. But we kept pushing, and eventually they trusted us and gave us access, and now we are major players in the market.”
Founders of CYST named among Forbes 30 UNDER 30
Two co-founders of CYST, a software and innovation company that specializes in artificial intelligence to create technology solutions, have been named among the 30 most influential entrepreneurs making strides in the technology industry in Africa.
The duo, Kofi Genfi and Nii Osae Osae Dade, both 24, created the Mazzuma app in 2013, Africa’s first app to merge Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Mobile together.
Commenting on this milestone, Kofi Genfi said the recognition will go a long way to enhance the company’s image and open international opportunities for them as well.
“I think this award adds to our credibility and exposes us to international market as well because we will be recognized internationally for what we are doing. It is one thing to be doing something in your local space and another to be recognized internationally on what you are doing. So, for us it is real honor that we have become sort of ambassadors for Ghanaian businesses.
For us one thing that it adds to the business is credibility and some level of dignity and respect, because there are businesses that are bigger than ours but have never been recognized by Forbes,” he told the B&FT.
Nii Osae Osae also added that the award is a motivation to the team to work harder and come out with new innovative products that will expand their customer base and meet their needs.
“It motivates us a lot because for us, we see it as a pat on the shoulder. It tells us what we are doing is something worthy of recognition and we are poised to do more.
We promise our clients to deliver better services and come out with innovative products that will meet their needs. We assure them that we will continue to improve our systems to serve them better,” he said.
CYST has a research arm called CYST Research Institute, which focuses on artificial intelligence-based research and development such as natural language processing. In partnership with the telecommunications companies, CYST has access to over 15 million subscribers through its platforms.
They count MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana, AirtelTigo Ghana, Unity Link and Data Protection Commission among their affiliates. It means over 15 million subscribers through its platforms.
CYST’s flagship product, Mazzuma, is a mobile money payment system that utilizes distributed secure infrastructure and cryptocurrency to enable seamless payments. The Mazzuma token, referred to as MAZ, is a key payment medium in the Mazzuma ecosystem. Transactions made on the Mazzuma platform are instantaneous.
Venture capital firm seeks disruptive blockchain firms
Newly launched black-owned blockchain venture capital firm, South African Digital Assets Partnership (SADA), aims to promote the adoption of blockchain technology and crypto-currency in Africa, by supporting projects that solve African challenges.
Introduced this week, the Johannesburg-based investment firm is focused solely on funding and supporting ventures, tokens, businesses and projects related to blockchain technology, digital currency and digital assets.
It is founded by South African-born tech entrepreneur Zamo Tshabalala, with blockchain industry entrepreneurs and crypto-currency experts who serve as board members.
These includes Congolese blockchain entrepreneur John Lombela, founder and CEO of Cryptovecs; Mendy Nkosi, co-founder of crypto-currency firm GA Capital; Scott Botha, founder of digital asset company The Burn Token; and Hein Schmidt, founder of crypto accounting firm Blueline Accounting Group.
SADA is owned by private shareholders, with its significant shareholder being Goodness Andrew Financial Group.
Through the SADA Blockchain Fund, the company says it has invested in innovative projects such as SA’s first digital asset, the Digital Rand, with the company scouting for more disruptive Africa-based blockchain businesses.
“SADA is looking to invest in blockchain companies that are disruptive and offer scalable solutions for the African continent, predominantly in the financial sector,” says Tshabalala.
“We also have a key focus in the telecoms, mining, energy and insurance industries, to name a few. We have identified multiple projects, and meticulous due diligence is done before any investment is made.”
SADA's Blockchain Fund is funded by a group of high net worth individuals, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, and private equity and venture capital companies.
As part of the Blockchain Fund, SADA runs and manages various funds, which it says are strategically positioned to cater for different types of blockchain businesses throughout the African continent.
These include its entry-level flagship fund called Africhain Fund; a Crypto-currencies 30 Index Fund aimed at retail investors; and a high-end flagship fund called the A-Team Capital Fund, for high net worth individuals such as financial advisors, fund managers and investment houses.
Apart from Digital Rand, the venture capital firm says it is looking at supporting companies such as Mazzuma, a mobile money payment system that utilises a distributed secure infrastructure and crypto-currency, to enable seamless payments.
Fundraising to support revolutionary projects
SADA says it is engaging international partners who will help the company to raise an estimated $10 million for its blockchain fund.
“Among the major challenges facing crypto-currency businesses, is getting through the bad publicity caused by many fraudulent platforms, scams and individuals, as we've seen the past three years,” Tshabalala points out.
“Regulatory uncertainty, access to capital and support are among other challenges hindering blockchain businesses. SADA focuses 100% on the rapidly evolving digital asset sector, maximising our investors’ capital growth through a proprietary and actively managed investment strategy, while placing a key focus on businesses changing the African economy through blockchain.”
To further understand the complex regulations guiding the South African financial landscape, SADA says it is guided by financial service provider Olwevu Group and is also a member of various blockchain associations, including the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium, which has members such as MMI Holdings, Standard Bank and reputable financial players in SA.
“We understand the importance of regulation with the prevalence of scams that have swept throughout Africa in the last four years.”
SADA says it will host its first Blockchain Start-Up Bootcamp and a block-party in February 2020, which will see the company host a challenge for blockchain start-ups.
“SADA is also planning to expand to six African countries in the next 18 months (Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, DRC and Botswana). At a later stage, we also plan on setting up our international office in Dubai. We aim to be the biggest blockchain VC company on our continent, with plans to invest in over 60 projects within the next 32 months in Africa.
Nii Osae-Dade & Kofi Genfi - Symbols of African possibilities
At Presec, Osae-Dade met Kofi Genfi, also a member of the computer club and as curious about how things worked.In the case of Genfi, though, half the time, he’d fail to put the gadgets he’d open and got scolded for it.But he learned what he wanted to through this adventure.Aside from his passion for computers, Genfi developed an interest in business, influenced in part by his parents who were both entrepreneurs.Shared obsession
Their shared obsession with computers and interest in entrepreneurship would create a bond between Osae-Dade and Genfi. They began to brainstorm ideas and to discuss how they could use technology to solve problems and improve society.Osae-Dade focused on technological innovation, with Genfi focused on how to commercialise these innovations. Osae-Dade’s technical skills paired with Genfi’s business acumen would eventually result in an idea to set up a company (CYST Company Limited) which they went on to form in 2013, while they were both only 19 and still in university, Genfi studying Business Administration at Ashesi University and Osae-Dade studying Computer Engineering at the University of Ghana.The CYST storyCYST is an acronym for Creative Young Smart Technology.Osae-Dade and Genfi explain that the words ‘creativity’, ‘young’ and ‘smart’ represent the ideology behind the technology they set out to create.They emphasise that whatever technology the business produces should be S-M-A-R-T. (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).They believe that those values, together with their youthful and dynamic thinking, make creativity inevitable.
Guided by their vision to create world-class technology to solve Africa’s problems and impact lives, CYST created a mobile payment app, named Mazzuma, which allows users to make online payments instantly, as well as mobile money payments across all networks in Ghana.“This was a step taken by CYST to accelerate the pace of disruptive innovation in making payments in the country,” Genfi says. Mazzuma has since its launch in 2017 recorded over 11 million Ghana Cedis with over 30,000 subscribers worldwide.
The partners insist that in creating technology, they preserve a dogged faith in the power of possibility.“We believe that even though something might sound uncertain, it is achievable,” Genfi says. “Shoot as far as you can with whatever resources you have at your disposal, and even if you are not able to hit your target, you should keep trying.You may be one connection away from a big break in your life.” It is, thus, not surprising that the plaque that hangs on the company’s reception says: “Nothing is impossible”.
Osae-Dade says the nursery rhyme, ‘Good, Better, Best’ resonates with him.
CYST continues to evolve in its scope and relevance. It has designed an artificial intelligence engine they call ALICE - Artificial Learning Intelligent Cognitive Engine.ALICE operates on the Mazzuma app by monitoring and preventing fraud, providing business intelligence solutions and data analysis, fostering automated customer services and tracking transactions.
Osae-Dade and Genfi cite bureaucracy as the biggest challenge facing their business.They tell me approvals for projects take too long to be granted by the government agencies they work for.
Osae-Dade’s biggest inspiration is the Marvel Comics fictional character Tony Stark. Stark is a genius inventor with the gift of creating anything he thinks of.“Though fiction is based on unreal things and things which haven’t been done before, I am constantly reminded by the comics that there is no limit to what I can create and achieve,” he says.
Genfi, on the other hand, takes inspiration from a real life hero - Strive Masiyiwa, the Founder of telecommunications, media and technology group Econet Wireless and Kwese TV. Genfi says Masiyiwa’s business foresight and expertise as exhibited on the global stage spurs him on to reach for greater heights.
Both religious, Osae-Dade and Genfi credit God for how far they have come with CYST.They, however, do not downplay the role hard work and discipline have played in their success.
While both are happy with the progress of CYST and its impact, they aspire to much greater heights and to be considered symbols of possibilities by the youth of Ghana.
Having both just been recognised in the technology category of the 2018 Forbes “30 under 30” in Africa in recognition of their exceptional work to improve development through technological advancement, Osae-Dade and Genfi are both, undoubtedly, symbols of possibilities.