Ghanaian mobile money app Mazzuma plotting move into crypto

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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.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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