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Bringing the future of money to Africa with Yellow Card

Tl;dr: Coinbase is expanding access to our products in Africa, starting with 20 countries across the continent. Our new partnership with leading African stablecoin exchange Yellow Card will help usher in the future of money by giving millions of users access to USDC and fast, reliable, cheaper transactions on our decentralized, open L2 Base through both Coinbase and Yellow Card products. 

By Mark Troianovski , Sid Coelho-Prabhu

International

, January 11, 2024

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The future of money is here, including in parts of the world with particular needs for faster, cheaper, more accessible ways to transfer value. Coinbase is expanding access to our products in emerging economies, starting with 20 countries across Africa. Through our new partnership with Yellow Card, one of Africa’s leading stablecoin exchanges and a Coinbase Ventures portfolio company, millions of users will gain access to USDC on Base with fast, reliable transactions at fees of less than half the cost of fiat transfers. Specifically: 

  • Coinbase Wallet users across these 20 countries – which account for about half (52%) of the continent’s population – will be able to purchase USDC directly in our Wallet app starting in February. 

  • On Yellow Card's platform, users also can purchase USDC on Base, benefiting from cheaper payments and transfer through the L2 blockchain as well as easy access to one of the main US dollar stablecoin offerings.

Many of these countries are high-inflation and remittance-dependent. This partnership with its emphasis on USDC will increase economic freedom in places that have lacked it, and help stand up a modern financial system where one hasn’t existed, by better supporting:

  • Savings protected from economic volatility caused by unstable currencies. Across Africa, inflation is 18.5%. Rates of crypto use and ownership have been climbing in recent years in countries like Nigeria and South Africa, where 47% and 22% of adults owned or used crypto in 2022, respectively. 

  • Remittances. The World Bank estimates that remittances can account for as much as 20% or more of GDP in many developing countries. Through this partnership, instead of paying fiat transfer fees as high as 3% to 6%, users will pay maximum fees of 2% for remittances that move in minutes or seconds, not days.

  • Everyday commerce. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for nine in 10 businesses around the world and half of all jobs, but in African and other emerging economies, SMEs face hurdles in opening USD and Euro accounts that impede their cross-border growth. Giving SMEs access to USDC effectively will mean access to the global financial system. Any merchant can set up a Wallet in less than 30 seconds. 

Many of these markets also are in need of economic opportunity for populations that skew younger than average; Africa is by far the youngest continent. Young people are more likely to recognize the benefits of crypto: more than seven in 10 crypto owners globally (72%) are under age 34. 

Consumers who have grown up with mobile phones and apps expect to be able to move their money with the speed, reach, and autonomy of the internet. In countries with legacy financial institutions, those institutions just can’t deliver; even in the US, 52% of young adults are actively seeking alternatives to the current financial system. And in many countries hosting our partnership, there is hardly any system at all. 

Just as parts of the world skipped over desktops and went straight to phones to access the internet, they are now able to skip over an outdated, legacy financial system bogged down by slow speeds, high fees and geographic borders, straight to one that is up to date, global, and decentralized.

Going both broad and deep

This initiative and similar, coming alliances are the latest step in Coinbase’s “Go Broad, Go Deep” strategy of compliant international expansion – building a runway of clear rules and partnerships to support innovation and help bring more than 1 billion people into crypto. “Go Broad” partnerships help ease our entry into markets with low economic freedom. This approach complements our “Go Deep” close engagement with local payments regulators in more mature markets. 

Cryptocurrency isn’t just here to stay – it’s the future of money, helping to drive a more open and accessible, more global financial system.

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Sid Coelho-Prabhu

About Sid Coelho-Prabhu

Product Management Director