Day One! In our latest edition, I had a great chat with 19-year-old wunderkind Njoku Emmanuel – CEO and co-founder of crypto startup Lazerpay. After dropping out of school to disapproving parents who wanted a medical career for him, he forfeited several lucrative jobs to chase his dream of building the “Stripe for crypto”.
I had this book where I wrote that I wanted to build an operating system and social media network for Africa. My mom would tease me, and intentionally mispronounce ‘Zuckerberg’ –that’s what she calls me. My dad told me that you couldn’t build your own company without working for someone for ten years, but I always had an entrepreneurial mindset.
Servicing a bearish market: Governments in Africa – Lazerpay’s primary market, are still apprehensive about cryptocurrency, which manifests through harsh regulations. 26 African countries have either implicit or absolute bans on cryptocurrency.
That’s one of the hardest parts of what we do. The target audience for our product is in a region that is either crypto-neutral or crypto-unfriendly. I support regulations fully and strongly believe that governments should regulate crypto as they do in the US instead of banning it.
Africa controls 70%
of the global money market, signalling the rapid adoption of fintech. Lazerpay is one of the companies aiming to solve Africa’s money problem.
Payment is broken in Africa. There’s really no interoperability between country A and country B. If I’m anywhere in Europe, I can spend Euros even in the poorest country in Europe. But If I want to travel from Nigeria to Ghana, I have to seriously plan. Where do I get Cedis?
How Lazerpay makes money:
Njoku: Our revenue model is fee-based. For instance, there’s a 1% charge on payments. It’s paid by the customer or the merchant – who decides who picks up the fees. Crypto withdrawals to your external wallet from the Lazerpay dashboard are free right now. But by September, we’ll be charging 0.5%, which will be capped at $2,000.
We help businesses off-ramp as well. For example, if I’m in China with USDT and I want to send money to Nigeria, and USDT is more convenient for me than naira – I can send USDT and if the receiver doesn’t want crypto, they can pay out to their local bank account and receive the money in Naira. We charge 0.5% for this, also capped at $2,000.
The dream: Njoku has some pretty big goals. I asked if an acquisition or an IPO listing is in Lazerpay’s future.
If we get listed on the US stock exchange or acquired, that’s fine. But my main goal is to be at the forefront of crypto adoption. I don’t see Lazerpay as a product. I see Lazerpay as an ecosystem that is going to build real-world use cases and utilities that affect our daily lives and make the common man interact with crypto every day.
Final thoughts: Njoku’s chasing the most daunting dream on a continent on the wrong side of crypto adoption. Lazerpay’s momentum further validates that crypto was built for the African market.
I’m rooting for the wunderkind and his dream to create the “Stripe for crypto”. It’s hard and essential work.
And it’s still Day One.