Cryptocurrency is steadily gaining influence as an alternative currency across different markets worldwide, including Africa despite skepticism from central banks advising their population to be cautious when it comes to trading in cryptocurrencies. While adoption rates are high in more mature markets due to a higher level of education among the population, Africa still faces challenges in embracing cryptocurrencies fully. To increase penetration of digital assets in the African market, industry players emphasize the need to design user friendly products in order to convince the bottom of the pyramid about the benefits and efficiencies brought about by this new technology.
One of the significant advantages of cryptocurrencies in Africa is their potential to provide access to financial services for the large unbanked population. Additionally, cryptocurrencies can facilitate faster and cheaper diaspora remittances and serve as a means of wealth protection during times of inflation.
Ryan Jales, Lead UX Content & Research Strategist at Yellow Card, Africa’s leading digital assets exchange, acknowledges that while the middle class in Africa has been at the forefront of adopting cryptocurrencies, there is still a significant portion of the population that remains untouched. Jales suggests that the industry should follow the M-pesa model, which initially targeted the mass market in Kenya, making it easier to scale the product to a broader audience.
“By simplifying the user experience and utilizing existing technology, we aim to make it as simple as possible for customers to learn and use our platform. We strive to be a relatable brand by designing products that resonate with customers. Despite the necessary KYC requirements, Yellow Card ensures a painless onboarding experience, driven by a deep understanding of customers and their financial behaviors.” says Ryan Jales.
Challenges such as lack of awareness, regulatory bottlenecks, and security concerns must be collectively addressed to convert the majority of people in Africa into cryptocurrency users. Many regulators in the continent remain cautious about cryptocurrencies, constantly sending advisories to banks regarding cryptocurrency dealings. Yellow Card, operating in 16 markets across the continent, actively engages with regulators to promote the understanding and acceptance of virtual currencies. Peter Mwangi, Country Manager at Yellow Card Kenya, stresses the importance of open-mindedness among regulators and allowing innovation to lead while regulations follow.
Despite the relatively small crypto economy in Africa, blockchain research and analytics firm Chainalysis reports that the continent boasts some of the highest grassroots adoption rates globally. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania rank in the top 20 of the Global Crypto Adoption Index. Increasing awareness has played a crucial role in addressing issues such as scams associated with cryptocurrencies. Fintech companies like Yellow Card are offering educational resources targeting millions of customers, contributing to the growth of knowledge and trust within the market.
Understanding the pain points of customers is essential in developing user-friendly crypto products that promote the adoption of virtual currencies across the continent. Sarah Paterson, Director of Design and User Experience at Yellow Card, emphasizes the importance of profiling customers and building applications that directly address their needs.
“Through surveys and direct communication, we get to know our customers, creating personas that enable us to design accessible and easy-to-understand products.” says Sarah Paterson, Director, Design & UX, Yellow Card.
“At the same time, through education and simplification of customer requirements, we reduce barriers to entry. We design for different device types and communicate with our customers at their level of understanding.” added Sarah.
The role of Data in Designing Crypto Products
Data plays a key role in designing the best crypto platforms, as explained by Dan Karanja, Product Analyst at Yellow Card. Transaction analysis enables insights into user behavior and the identification of trends. By analyzing user data, platform developers can enhance the user experience, identifying pain points and areas for improvement. Data also aids in risk management, addressing market volatility, fraud, regulatory requirements, and security vulnerabilities.
“Data plays a crucial role in designing the best crypto platform by providing insights into user behavior, enhancing user experience, managing risks, and identifying vulnerabilities.” – Dan Karanja. “Ultimately, data analysis informs product development, highlighting areas for improvement and innovation.”
To better understand customers, Dan says they use data-driven techniques such as user segmentation, identifying shared characteristics to tailor marketing and product strategies. Analyzing user engagement patterns helps optimize communication strategies and identify purchasing behavior trends. Customer service is also enhanced through data analysis, addressing trending issues and improving self-service options.
African countries face unique challenges in adopting cryptocurrencies. Lack of infrastructure, including unreliable local payment gateways and internet connectivity, hinders accessibility and customer acquisition. Education, awareness, and financial literacy are also significant hurdles, compounded by limited understanding of financial systems. Furthermore, regulatory uncertainty creates barriers to adoption, as governments across Africa navigate their approach to this new technology.
Collaborative efforts involving all stakeholders including crypto companies, regulators, and other institutions are necessary to address these challenges, improve infrastructure, increase awareness, and establish clear regulatory guidelines.