Bridge Cross-Continental Investments: The Access Formula

Mobile Money + Decentralized Banking = Global Economic Pathways

Investors around the world are focused on economic development in Africa. In particular, this economic opportunity has been a focus for China. The country has been spearheading innovation in solar panel development and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, has sights on manufacturing facilities, supply chains, transportation infrastructure, reliable communication systems, and human infrastructure throughout the continent.

“China is actively pursuing an African industrialisation strategy,” explains Ms. Jing of the Centre for Rising Powers in a Financial Times article. The nation plans to transfer production capabilities to the region over the next 10 years.

An on-the-ground banker takes the Access Network team on a tour through his community in Ghana.

This push will have macro and micro-economic ripple effects, connecting the African continent to the rest of the world. But there’s a major challenge to be overcome.

Continent-Wide, Africans Have Been Disconnected from Overseas Funding Networks to Support their Entrepreneurial Ingenuity

African economies (like countless others around the world) are prone to crime, fraud, and lack access to advanced technology. Everyday citizens rely on informal networks, rather than formal financial institutions, to manage their money and obtain loans.

Traditional banking and lending systems are defunct. Corruption and financial instability create barriers between investors and African innovators. Because of broken banking infrastructure, investment pathways are broken too.

How Ghana Is Solving This Problem

In 2018, five banks in Ghana became insolvent. But this was also the year that Ghana became one of Africa’s top mobile money markets.

Between 2014 and 2017, according to Findex, the percentage of adults with a mobile money account grew from 13% to 39%. In addition, there’s a growing demand for mobile money interoperability, for seamless transfer of funds between entities, devices, parts of the world, and people.

This rise came from regulatory reforms, aggressive recruitment of on-the-ground banking agents, the development of new mobile banking guidelines, and customer education. MTN, Africa’s largest mobile network operator (MNO), spearheaded this effort. In less than a year, the company gained market share for 75% of the country’s active accounts.

Mobile Network Operators Are Only Part of the Solution

Telecom operators are currently the dominant players in Africa’s mobile money market: widespread customer bases and distribution make it possible to diffuse products. But MNOs themselves are limited: “the combination of slowing subscriber growth rates and rapidly reducing ARPU levels is making revenue growth challenging in an increasing number of African markets,” according to Deloitte.

In other words, telcos face a customer adoption challenge. The demand for mobile money outpaces what telcos are able to offer. The mobile money market is still in its nascent stages, and there’s room in the market for new solutions. MNOs only offer money sending and payments: these are very basic financial services. They don’t offer loan products, credit scores, insurance products, or other resources that are common in the Western world.

Enter Decentralized Banking

Atlas Money has deployed a mobile money solution in Ghana and Senegal. In less than a year, its flagship app has grown to a unique weekly user base of 30,000 through 500 banking agents. Atlas has amassed $3M in deposits and has distributed $500,000 in micro-loans.

An Atlas agent banks one of his customers, a small business owner, on-the-spot.

Atlas is an on-demand, peer-to-peer banking platform. Rather than introducing a new banking system or product into Ghana and Senegal, we are tapping into existing economic activity:

  • Communities self-organize to manage their funds
  • Democratic processes ensure distribution of money
  • On-the-ground banking agents enforce terms and conditions, creating a system of trust

Tokenomics Align with Human Incentives

Blockchain technology enables us to emulate banking activity that already exists. We’ve introduced a token, ACX, which grows adoption of our partner platforms through loyalty and rewards mechanisms:

  • Banking agents use ACX to earn-in for referrals, transactions, stored deposits, and group community meetups
  • ACX can be used and redeemed for a discount on service fees or in local partner stores for smartphones, apparel, or supplies for community-building
Banking agents have personal incentives to bank new customers.

Back to the Big Picture

MNOs have already made billions of dollars in transaction fees, as middlemen. But their solutions are limited — telcos are centrally run, and African communities operate on a peer-to-peer model. Access Network taps into already-existing economic infrastructure, through blockchain and tokenomics. For this reason, our solution is in a position to grow faster than other mobile money systems.

Our peer-to-peer network puts money in the hands of local entrepreneurs and business leaders. This pathway is crucial to global economic development, according to Ms. Jing of China’s Centre for Rising Powers: Africans must take complete control of their relationships — to set their own priorities, plan their own economic futures, and gain an upper hand in working with overseas investors.

“It is not for others to decide,” she explains.

Join Our Journey

We’re spearheading a financial revolution, with key backers and partners. Become a part of the movement today:

Twitter: @ACX_Network

Contributors Statement
This work was a collaboration between the entire Access Network team, ranging from the CEO to CTO, COO, Chief of Staff, and other members of leadership. Emily Burchill, Shannon Wu, Ritika Puri, and Karissa Domondon created this story.

The opinions expressed are those of the authors and are no guarantee of the future performance of any Access Network fund or service. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice. Access Network is currently unlaunched and has not announced a token generation event. Blog posts are intended to provide education about the business model and its path to development, only.