During the crypto bear market, people in finance derided blockchain technology as “a solution in search of a problem.” After Bitcoin’s 2020 surge, investors did an about-face, yielding to more thoughtful questions about crypto, notably: what the hell is it? Is crypto a currency or a security, a replacement to payment processors/trading rails/contracts or the decentralized infrastructure for the new internet? And, while there seems to be a general tongue-in-cheek consensus among mainstream economists about the stupidity of certain crypto experiments, the continuing Bitcoin bull market (despite bearish moments) is engendering enormous experimentation and innovation.
El Salvador made news this year when its 39 year-old president declared Bitcoin legal tender. As with all things Bitcoin, this move elicited no shortage of scoffing. Nonetheless, El Salvador, obviously seeking to break dollar dependency, begs the question: will other emerging economies will follow suit? The Financial Times covered this topic more recently, demonstrating the importance of emerging markets in the ongoing adoption of digital assets:
Prior to our investment in Ejara, I hadn’t given much thought to the CFA Franc, a post-colonial monetary regime affecting 14 countries, grouped into 2 monetary zones in West and Central Africa. Both monetary zones are linked to the Euro. Established in 1945, ostensibly to help this region avoid its dependence on the dramatically devalued French Franc, the CFA Franc remains tightly controlled by the French government. Today, 162 million people rely on this non-native currency.
Ejara’s founder, Nelly Chatue-Diop, is working on providing this region, and also the Francophone African diaspora, access to the financial products we take for granted in Europe and the U.S.
Beginning with cryptocurrencies and evolving to include numerous other financial products, from access to traditional investment markets to insurance, Ejara seeks to include the large, under-served population in CFA Franc zone access to banking, investment and remittance products so readily available in developed markets.
Nelly and her team are building Ejara in Africa. Her team and her advisors represent some of the most respected experts in crypto, engineering and the local regulatory environment in the region. Ejara’s on-the-ground approach allowed them to grow thousands of users even before any formal launch.
We are incredibly proud to join Coinshares, Mercy Corps Ventures, Lateral Capital, NetX Fund, and a group of angel investors to support Ejara in this phase of growth!