2022 meets 2023: A look back as we push forward
Welcome to 2023! This is a new year that is already daring us to be bold enough to step out of our comfort and approach the web 3 space with a new lens. We are excited to share what we have in store for 2023 as a company and how we intend to grow our products and team in efficiency and delivery.
But first, let’s have a look back at our 2022 journey as a company and some of the wins that have set the pace for this year’s strategy.
2022 has been a year of growth for Kotani Pay. Reflecting back, we have celebrated our share of wins, counted our losses, learned from our challenges, and in all good and bad, we count the experiences as propelling knowledge to where we are now. The overall theme for the year was all-around growth internally as a company and externally with our clients, partners and investors.
Here are a few key highlights for the year:
A rise in the annual volume
Despite the 2022 crypto market, Kotani Pay rose above the challenges and setbacks. Our Gross Transaction Volume (GTV) grew by over 20x more compared to 2021. This was a result of over 100% quarterly growth rate in volumes throughout the year.
One of the many contributing factors to this growth is expanding our product beyond the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) solution.
In the year 2023, there was a massive adoption of our on-ramp/off-ramp API indicating a demand of the product and a business niche to be filled. Our API solution is creating a seamless way for businesses to integrate with us and access fast on-ramp/off-ramp services for their cross-border needs.
Towards the end of the year, we introduced the Stablecoin Settlement Solution (SSS) which aims at helping clients access stablecoins. The SSS product offers businesses and remittance companies digital assets to facilitate a fast, secure and affordable cross-border transaction.
In return, through the three Kotani Pay products, our monthly transactional volume for 2023 will be expected to increase twice as much and our annual expected GTV by more than 5x.
More product Use cases
One of the known use cases for the USSD solution is the Universal Basic Income (UBI). Through our partner ImpactMarket, we continue to provide UBI beneficiaries in Kenya and Ghana access to an easy and familiar off-ramping solution directly to their phones. Beyond the humanitarian use cases, the API and SSS products have given us multiple use cases such as:
a) Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
Kotani Pay together with Cinch Markets, Mercy Corps, Celo, and Moola market launched a program that provided De-Fi credit to farmers in Nanyuki. Cinch, the employer, was able to post collateral and access the DeFi loan in the form of Celo Dollars (cUSD). Kotani Pay then redistributed these credits to the farmers’ Kotani Pay wallets according to what they requested. Once in their Kotani Pay account, the farmers were able to off-ramp their funds directly to their mobile money wallet.
To curb challenges such as time delays and the cost of cross-border payments, Kotani Pay offers remittance companies an alternative solution. Our stablecoin settlement solution is providing remittance companies with stablecoins to transact across borders at an affordable rate. The dollar-backed digital assets ease the movement of high-volume money across borders in a timely and efficient manner at an affordable cost.
In another real-world use case of blockchain, we partnered with Mercy Corps, Corsali, Appen and Celo in a microwork project in Kenya. Participants of the program were given Artificial Intelligence training microtasks to perform and upon completion, they were paid using Celo USD and they would withdraw the funds directly from their mobile money using Kotani Pay USSD. At the end of the program, we discovered that the use of blockchain technology for cross-border transactions was faster and showed a 93% reduction in transaction fees.
We are currently working with SympliFi, UTU, Mercy Corps Venture, and Kwanza Tukule to provide inventory finance in the form of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The ongoing program seeks to provide cheaper and short-term capital to MSMEs by tapping into the global DeFi liquidity pools such as SympliFi platform.
A multichain blockchain stack
Kotani Pay was first built on the Celo protocol, a mobile-first blockchain. Through this platform, we have promoted the achievement of seven out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Despite this, our growth plan for the year was to ensure our on-ramp/off-ramp API product can integrate with multiple blockchain networks as per our client’s preferences.
In the year 2022, we integrated with four more blockchain protocols namely Avalanche, Stellar, Arbitrum, and Tron. These integrations are a result of client needs. For the year 2023, we will be integrating with Polygon, Cardano, and Bitcoin to serve customers in these ecosystems.
Bigger team, bigger results
Part of our growth plan for 2022 was to expand our team in order to increase competence. The focus of expansion was team growth in Kenya in Ghana. Half of the new staff are women making our team both inclusive and dynamic.
In addition, we also established a Kotani Pay office in Ghana. Our Ghana team is instrumental in bringing on-ramp/off-ramp services to our clients in West Africa. The team is also responsible for creating awareness of our solutions to clients in the West Africa region who need on-ramp/off-ramp services.
Grants, hackathons, and accelerator programs
For a long time, we have participated in hackathons and accelerator programs. These programs have played a significant role in laying our foundation and 2022 was no different. Some of the accelerator programs we participated in include:
Kotani Pay was one of five companies to graduate from the 12-month-long UNICEF venture fund. Throughout the program, we received mentorship in business development, software development, tech design and improvement, and impact mentorship, among others. During the program, we were able to dig deeper into our tech stack our product and refine it. We also got to partner with Treejer who were part of the cohort and provide value for each other.
During the program, we started the process of making our API solution open-source and by the end of the program, our product had achieved all the set requirements and were declared a digital public good. This means that developers can work with our tech stack to easily connect other solutions and suggest refinements to our stack.
Last year, we were accepted into the Newmoon accelerator program. During the 8-week program, we received mentoring and coaching, technical support, and access to Web 3 knowledge. It is through this accelerator program that we were able to join the IBM Hyperprotect Accelerator program.
3. Village Capital / IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator programs
Kotani Pay was selected as one of 15 companies to participate in the 2-year-long program. The ongoing program provides us with technical mentorship from IBM, a 3-month intensive Village capital Investment readiness Accelerator with mentors, and investor matching. In addition to that we are receiving up to $120,000 worth of IBM cloud credit.
Some of the hackathons we participated in include Celo x Huobi hackathon: Stablecoin in Web3 & Sustainability. The hackathon aimed at bringing together innovative solutions that are sustainable for the planet while defining the Web 3 mobile DeFi landscape.
We participated in the virtual Stellar Community Fund (SCF#11) Bootcamp. The 4-day-intensive Bootcamp was in the form of a design sprint that aimed at supporting participants in their Stellar journey. We emerged among the top winners of the Bootcamp and received 100,000 XLM. We have now integrated with Stellar and enabled sending and receiving remittance on Stellar using the XLM stablcoin.
Another accomplishment of the year was being selected as a top 10 continental finalist from the 1,700 businesses who applied in over 50 countries in Africa for the U.S chamber of commerce, Africa Digital competition. The competition aimed at rewarding African innovators and startups for developing solutions through digital products and services that positively impact Africans. We got to showcase our product as a solution to the financial inclusion challenge in Africa.
To crown our year, as a result of our program with the UNICEF Venture fund and new open-source API, we were selected for the first-ever quadratic funding pilot by Gitcoin. The round of funding launched Gitcoin’s new decentralized grant protocol that allows communities to coordinate their grant funding.
Welcome to 2023
Looking back, we attribute our success to the grit and undying effort that the team at Kotani Pay put into serving our clients and refining our products.
Welcome to 2023! This year, despite the expected global financial recession, our goal still remains growth.
Here are a couple of things we are excited about in 2023
For 2023, we are most excited about the uptake of our API and Stablecoin Settlement Solution.
In light of that, we are already integrating our API with more blockchain protocols including Polygon, Cardano, and Arbitrum to provide flexible alternatives for businesses to on-ramp and off-ramp.
We are building an automatic dashboard that offers stablecoin settlement in minutes. Businesses will now be able to access stablecoins or dollars directly as a fast one-time solution for their on-ramp/off-ramp needs.
We consider ourselves Africa’s most reliable on-ramp/off-ramp solution and true to our word, we intend to expand beyond Kenya, Ghana, and Zambia. We are currently activating our operations in South Africa, Nigeria, and Senegal to increase coverage of our product across Africa.
With large expectations and goals, there needs to be a larger team to accomplish this. We intend to increase our talent pool in various departments from different African Countries with a keen focus on promoting female talent in the Web 3 space.
Be part of our 2023
Remittance to the African continent is over $45 billion a year while the fee for a $200 transaction can typically go high as 8%. We are changing this narrative by addressing challenges such as cross-border transaction fees and access to financial services to empower and elevate the continent.
Despite all the strategies we have put in place, we cannot be an on-ramp/off-ramp solution without your partnership and support. Dare to step out of your comfort zone with us as we create real-world blockchain use cases across Africa and beyond.