Founders Spotlight:Christian Phaladze(Chairman,Greydot)

For Christian Phaladze, the telecommunications revolution is upon us and he and the team at Greydot Africa want to lead the charge. Their goal is to simplify telecommunications for the general public and SMEs not only in Botswana but the entire globe. In this interview, he takes us through how they are planning on doing that.

In your own words, tell us who Chris Phaladze is.

Christian Phaladze is a native of Mochudi, an architect by training. He also considers himself a fintech entrepreneur.

Please tell us more about your company, Greydot Mobile

Greydot Africa is a company registered in the Republic of Botswana and operates a global telecommunications and third-party payment processing platform, collectively known as Greydot Mobile. 

What was the motivation for starting Greydot Mobile?

The motivation was the need to create a revolutionary telecoms solution for the general public and small to medium enterprises. Its purpose is to simplify telecoms for small, most often mobile businesses by offering a single point of contact telephone number, which in turn follows them to wherever the conversation is required.

What is the secret behind Greydot being the cheapest telecommunications provider around?

Instead of using terrestrial infrastructure such as cables, towers, fibre, etc, our infrastructure sits purely in the cloud. Our systems are fully automated and there is no need for a significant labor force. We are a virtual network and though we have physical offices, we are hardly ever there.

Apart from providing telecommunications services, Greydot also allows third-party payments through a digital wallet. Please tell us a bit more about that service

Greydot payment is a mobile money, financial platform like no other.Greydot payment combines the smart elements of a cryptocurrency with the transaction throughput of a modern relational database.

In a short period of time, Greydot has managed to amass over 700 000 users across Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and the DRC with no aggressive marketing. How did you achieve such rapid growth?

The platform has an attractive referral system that is linked to a generous rewards system. This motivates our customers to recruit more users.

Greydot is a Botswana-based company with operations across many countries in the region. What challenges have you faced,regulatory-environment and otherwise, in these countries and how have you tackled them?

We have not faced any insurmountable challenges in our countries of operation, except the slight delays associated with obtaining the required licenses in those respective territories. We have however encountered difficulties in getting interconnection with our local networks here in Botswana that deny us the opportunity to deploy our BOCRA issued number range of +267 79...... to our customers. This interconnection would position us as a full network, competing on a level playing field with other networks. We got interconnection relatively easily in South Africa, Namibia & Kenya. We are awaiting being granted the same in Zimbabwe very soon.

Your product is an iOS and Android app which means it's dependent on a high internet penetration which is still a challenge in Africa including Botswana. How have you traversed this challenge and managed to achieve such impressive user numbers?

We believe that there is significant internet penetration across the African continent. Our view is based on the number of sim cards out there, a significant number of whom carry internet for social media platforms and other such apps. We need that internet in the sim cards for our mobile users, not to consume it, but just to keep our app on, the consumption of which is very insignificant, we consume Greydot airtime.

In its existence, Greydot has managed to evolve from providing fax-to-email technology to being a “next-generation digital voice network”. What is your secret to staying relevant in a rapidly changing tech environment?

Our developers are constantly creating and testing new inventions. We believe that complacency is a recipe for redundancy.

In your professional opinion, what can be done to improve internet penetration in African countries like Botswana so that innovators like yourself don’t have to depend on technologies provided by Western companies like SpaceX’s Starlink for future growth?

We do not see any other viable option for internet penetration better than the imminent Starlink offering.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, what advice can you give to young people looking to found an innovative tech-centric company like Greydot?

My advice would be for the youth to think of a solution that would impact positively the lives of the masses, in terms of affordability, convenience, and longevity.

Lastly, please share with our readers where you can be reached if they are interested in getting in touch.

NB: Interview has been edited for clarity

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