Blockchain used to make payments in Africa cheaper and faster


Africa’s economy is suffering from a lack of stable currencies and poor IT infrastructures. To enable people living in Africa to transact more easily, the web browser Opera and Celo (EVM-blockchain transitioning to a Layer-2), partnered to create ‘MiniPay’, a non-custodial web wallet integreated in Opera that uses phone numbers for easy transactions.

How does it work?

Blockchain brings transparency and decentralisation, but can often be hard to use for beginners. Traditional payments platforms usually have a good user experience, but are centralized and opaque. With MiniPay, Opera and Celo bring the best of both world by using blockchain technology, but also making sure the web wallet has a good user experience and is very straightforward to use. To do so, MiniPay uses Social Connect, (a privacy-first naming service protocol that maps wallets to mobile phone numbers) and FiatConnect (an open on-/off-ramp API standard). Thanks to the Social Connect integration, users can send or receive money with a phone number. For now, only the dollar is accepted as it is the most used currency and makes it simpler. Celo has a lot of robust partners such as Fonbnk and Bitmama that makes the use of the dollar possible.

To make the experience as user-friendly as possible, users simply sign in with their google account and their private key is store in their google drive. This takes away the burden of storing your private keys and the fear to lose them. Users can access a non-custodial wallet without managing their keys.

Why was this initiative necessary?

As mentioned above, Africa’s development is hindered by a lack of appropriate resources and unstable monetary conditions. Users across many countries (Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa) have acknowledged that even if the current centralized payment solutions are good, they still have concerns regarding the high fees, the centralization and the lack of transparency. With over 100 million users of Opera in the African continent, it is clear that there is a great potential of adoption for the web wallet. With that vision in mind, Opera decided to partner with local payment companies such as Airtime, MPesa or Bank Transfer. The non-custodial aspect of the wallet allows users to stay away from the traditional banking system, and the local partners allow an easy exchange of dollars for the local currency. The wallet permits fast and cheap transactions, which is key to help the continent develop.

Benefits & Outcomes
  • Increases financial inclusion
  • Provides a better security
  • Provides a good user experience
  • Enables cross-border transactions
  • Brings transparency
  • Non-custodial wallet
Further Info

Opera MiniPay wallet allows:

  • Sub-cent transaction fees and the ability to pay these fees using stablecoins.
  • Transactions are fast  with a transaction speed of 5-second settlement in seconds
  • As a non-custodial wallet, MiniPay represents a gateway to Decentralized Finance and Celo’s ecosystem. Users have access to more than 1000 apps that span from local projects such as impactMarket to DeFi apps such as Uniswap.

Project is live. Research by Alexandre in January 2024.

© Antony Welfare 2024