Trade and commerce are the main drivers of economic growth and are also a critical part of human existence. In Africa, the lack of a widely accepted local currency and the volatility of individual currencies make trade difficult and thus hamper economic growth. Because of this challenge, cross-border payments within Africa are mainly made in dollars. But dollars are usually in the tight grip of big corporations and government, leaving SMEs – the backbone of any economy – with little or no access to it for business.
Recently, with greater efficiency, greater financial inclusion, and more innovation, digital currencies and payment systems have benefited consumers and society at large tremendously. Stablecoins in particular are gradually gaining ground as an acceptable means of payment due to their fast, secure, affordable and easily transferrable nature, with more than $185 billion worth of stablecoins circulating in the global market.
In 2021, Chainanalysis, a blockchain data platform, reported that cryptocurrency adoption exploded across Africa with a 1,200% increase over 2020. This adoption has been fueled by the use of stablecoins for savings, remittances and commercial transactions, with cross-border remittances reportedly accounting for a larger share of the African cryptocurrency market (96%) than all other regions combined (78%).
But despite these recent strides in adopting and using crypto, particularly stablecoins, for commerce, savings (to hedge against inflation) and cross-border remittances in Africa, businesses across the continent are still struggling to integrate crypto offerings into their platforms. This ultimately reduces their ability to scale and participate in global market opportunities.
This is where Lazerpay comes in to help African companies get involved in this stablecoin-powered future of commerce.
Lazerpay, popularly known as Stripe for crypto, is a Nigerian crypto payment gateway startup that helps businesses accept crypto payments quickly and securely from anywhere in the world. In October 2021, Njoku Emmanuel, a 19-year-old Nigerian blockchain engineer in high demand, co-founded Lazerpay with Abdulfatai Suleiman and Prosper Ubi when it went into beta testing, providing access to over 1000 companies in Africa.
Before Lazerpay, accepting crypto payments was such a complex and risky endeavor, as businesses had to set up a wallet address on a crypto exchange, accept payments from limited crypto assets, and then overcome P2P hurdles to convert their crypto into fiat . Alternatively, they must get someone to provide a wallet address and pay the person to convert the crypto asset received on their behalf into fiat.
But with the launch of the beta version of the crypto payments startup, businesses only need to integrate a collection widget into their apps or collect payments via a link. Both options support payment with any crypto asset, so any business or company using either solution can receive crypto payments from anywhere in the world within seconds. Once the crypto asset is received, it is instantly converted to stablecoins in the user’s Lazerpay wallet. This is to protect users from the highly volatile nature of most crypto assets. Customers/users can then decide to deposit the stablecoins into their crypto wallets or bank account of their choice.
“The first version of Lazerpay was simple in that businesses could only accept and withdraw stablecoins. It currently serves over 2,000 companies on five continents. However, we quickly realized that an additional layer was needed to convert stablecoins to fiat. In order to improve our users’ experience, we decided to create the second version of our payment gateway to allow merchants to withdraw their crypto payments in fiat directly from their dashboards,” said Njoku Emmanuel, CEO of Lazerpay, in a statement to the new updates.
In February 2022, the startup came out of private beta and, based on feedback from the previous version, will introduce a number of new features to further improve the customer experience on the platform. New solutions that have been tested over the last few weeks and will be rolled out for the benefit of customers include:
Withdrawals from Lazerpay – move your money on your terms
“Commerce has evolved to the point where many merchants can offer products to a global audience and receive payments from anywhere in the world. Despite this development, some companies, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, are still excluded from this global expansion drive. With the addition of payouts, we are equipping businesses to drive growth by receiving and making global payments without exchange barriers,” said Amara Uyanna, head of MEA partnerships, in a statement accompanying the new updates.
A major upgrade for the Lazerpay platform is the processing of withdrawals. Previously, the platform paid out earnings in the stablecoin they earned to their clients or business owners, regardless of whether they needed to transact with another stablecoin. But in the new version (2.0), users can exchange their stablecoins between USDT, USDC, BUSD and DAI, which are all supported stablecoins for earning on the platform.
Furthermore, Lazerpay has also added fiat withdrawal options for its users. While previously users could only receive withdrawals in stablecoins, they can now withdraw in multiple currencies in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, USA, UK, India, China and UAE. Lazerpay merchants can now withdraw in USD anywhere in the world and in Nigerian Naira and Ghanaian Cedis in Africa. They can also send money to other companies in their desired currencies, giving them more freedom and flexibility to move their money the way they want.
Lazerpay products – help merchants sell faster
Products is Lazerpay’s solution for an adaptable yet powerful online store for business owners and digital developers. This offer allows users to upload and create multiple product listings with products to let customers know how many of each item they have in stock.
What’s special about this particular feature is that business owners used to create a payment link for every product they wanted to sell. But with the new Lazerpay version, merchants can create orders for their customers using any combination of their product listings and generate a single payment link that customers can use to pay for all of their purchases. They can also customize the descriptions that appear with their orders and preview them to get an idea of what customers see after clicking the link.
An additional feature of Lazerpay’s products is the option of a “thank you” message upon receipt of payment and the ability to collect delivery details and other standard transaction details for recording or analysis purposes.
A data-driven dashboard for better decision-making
Recognizing the importance of data in business decision-making, Lazerpay has introduced a data segment on the dashboard of every business that has signed up to the platform to provide more data on their wallet balance, financial performance over the past few months and a summary recent transactions.
The Transactions Dashboard gives users access to all of their transactions, which they can export if needed for further analysis of their finances. On the customer dashboard, merchants can access and filter aggregated customer data to learn more about their customers and make better data-driven business decisions.
In addition to solving payment problems for businesses, Lazerpay understands that businesses need to grow their funds and grow their market share. Because of this, the platform offers business owners investment opportunities and a token system to reward their customers.
Without requiring any special crypto knowledge, Lazerpay allows users to increase their earnings through a safe algorithm that rounds up the best crypto investments. You can earn up to 10% interest per year and borrow without collateral for urgent needs. It provides liquidity for the tokens and acts as a loyalty bonus that companies can use to reward their customers.
Overall, the new updates on Lazerpay ensure that no one, including non-technical customers, is left behind as the startup continues to lead the way in improving commerce across the continent by creating simple, easy-to-use, and customer-focused crypto payment solutions. In the future, the platform will also work to add more analytics to the data dashboard to help business owners make the best decisions for their business.