In Conversation: Keletso Thophego (Botswana Country Manager, Yellowcard)

Keletso Thophego, country manager for cryptocurrency exchange company Yellowcard's Botswana operations, talked to BW TechZone about the company's presence in the country.

He touches on the state of crypto adoption in Botswana, opportunities, challenges, the future of crypto and much more! 

Please tell us about Yellow Card and the problem the company is solving

Yellow Card is the largest exchange on the African continent, building the crypto and financial infrastructure for Africa to make it easy and affordable for anyone, anywhere on the continent to interact with the digital currency ecosystem, send and receive money, and control their own finances.

Founded in 2016 by Chris Maurice (CEO) and Justin Poiroux (CTO), Yellow Card launched in Nigeria in 2019, and since then it has quickly grown to operate the largest and fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange on the continent, with a presence in over 17 countries and over 1 million registered customers. Yellow Card offers exchange, easy cross-border payments powered by crypto, and an API suite for companies to on-and-off-ramp anyone on the continent into the crypto ecosystem.

Why did the company decide to enter the Botswana market?

Botswana is one of the biggest economies in the continent, a world leader in diamond exports and very peaceful. Though it has a very small population compared to a lot of other countries, Botswana is ranked among the top five in Africa when it comes to purchasing power. Thus, the company saw a lot of use cases for crypto in the country. Moreover, the ease of business and innovation accommodation solidified the need to open in Botswana.

How has the adoption of the service been since its entrance?

Crypto has its own niche in the market and we have seen the same players welcome a local and regulated-based service presented by Yellow Card. However, it should be noted that more Batswana are coming into the pool with various use cases. Some use stable coins for hedging, global payments and margin trading, whereas others use speculative coins like Ethereum and Bitcoin to speculate and hold long-term for capital gains

What challenges have you identified?

Scams remain our biggest challenge. Scams have been hampering organic and use case-based growth in the market. A lot of new entrants are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme in crypto because of the misinformation spread by scammers.

What opportunities have you identified in the market?

There is a lot to be done with corporations in Botswana. Treasury management, hedging and instant global payments. The use of the technology can help alleviate inefficiencies with the fiat system and provide value for all players involved. Visa is already doing it with USD coin on the Solana network to instantly settle over 500,000 merchants across the globe. Thus, we need to act as quickly as possible and get partnerships on board. Our B2B API is ready to service such needs.

Knowledge about cryptocurrencies in Botswana is still limited. Most people see them as “get rich quick” schemes, leading to multiple scams in the past. How is Yellow Card fostering education on this technology?

We have various layers of information and resources. The first level is our usual physical or telephone contact via our local office or office lines. We take this a step further by having a three-week rigorous onboarding for new users as they are given an anti-scam screen when they transact and anti-scam information via email, push notifications and in-app messaging.

The last layer of our efforts is our rich and free educational resource called Yellow Card Academy. The Yellow Card Academy should be the first step for everyone interested in crypto because it is not Yellow Card-centric but rather provides you with a broader picture to help you cut your own use case for crypto.

What do you think is the future of crypto in Botswana?

Efficient local and global payments, Cost-effective hedging and ease of access to FX.

In terms of Yellow Card, are there any new products you will soon be launching that you would like to share with our readers?

Not at the moment. However, we have two incredible products outside of our core exchange services. Yellow Pay and the B2B API. Yellow Pay wraps up the core exchange service such that when you send value across to someone it converts your fiat to crypto and converts the crypto back to fiat for the receiver so that they can click a few buttons to withdraw.

The B2B API gives companies access to our crypto-based payment rails for instant settlement in our 20 African markets.

What's your message to Batswana who are not utilizing Yellow Card’s services?

Sign up, explore, research and establish a use case for yourself. Crypto is the future of payments. Thus, we need to adopt it at a personal level to enable companies like Yellow Card and other adopters to develop more products that will further service your needs on a global scale and cut costs significantly. People who adopted Bitcoin early when it was $10 have seen the growth this technology has and benefitted massively from it. Thus, we have a second chance to be in a similar position of benefit in the long term.

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