Nigerian startup Lazerpay has built a blockchain-powered solution that enables businesses to accept payments from anyone, anywhere in the world, using stablecoins.
Founded last year, Lazerpay has developed an API that allows developers to integrate crypto payments into their platforms easily. It also allows these businesses to payout their funds in local currencies and US dollars to over 150 countries globally.
It does this using stablecoins, a category of cryptocurrencies that lack the volatility of the more popular ones people know of, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“We only deal in BUSD, DAI, USDC and USDT. We focus on only these because they are backed by the US dollar and it is important for us to provide a stable, secure and relatively risk-free financial solution for our users,” founder and CEO Emmanuel Njoku told Disrupt Africa.
In addition to its APIs and SDKs offerings for white-label and checkout integration, Lazerpay also offers no-code solutions like payment links, QR codes and payment buttons.
“For online SMEs with limited tech infrastructure, this suite of solutions enables them to increase their access to the global market without additional infrastructure cost,” Njoku said.
“We’ve also made it easy for e-commerce merchants to accept payments in crypto on their WordPress-based platforms using our plugins. Finally, because ultimately we are a business solution, our product provides businesses invoicing, receipts and inventory capabilities to support their growth and financial record-keeping.”
Quite the offering, then. Lazerpay came about after Njoku attempted to donate to a charity organisation in Dubai early last year.
“My de facto option when making payments online is crypto because that’s what I got paid in for the last few years, so I selected the “Donate with Crypto” option on this NGO platform and made payments in DAI. After 59 mins, I received a notification that the payment was not found,” he said.
“That situation had me perplexed, and was my first real insight into the problems faced by merchants trying to accept payments from clients abroad. It drove me to dive deeper and I learned that there’s so much friction in moving money into and across Africa today. With most cross-border remittances today, it is difficult to predict settlement times, same day payments are rare, costs are always higher, and transparency around these costs is often non-existence.”
These challenges around payments are a difficulty given the tremendous growth in e-commerce across the continent, as well as mobile-first nature of tech in Africa.
“I saw the massive opportunity and decided to attempt building a new infrastructure that supports the evolution in the financial system. I hoped that with this new solution, we could include people who are currently excluded due to borders, absence of websites and physical stores, or other barriers to global commerce and remittance,” said Njoku.
He and his co-founders began building Lazerpay in August last year, incorporating in October, and launched for public use February of this year. Njoku said it blends aspects of crypto-based business payments platforms like Bitpay with cross-border remittances services like WorldRemit to create a highly valuable solution for African businesses.
“Ultimately, we’re building the financial infrastructure to create interoperability between regions in Africa and the Middle East, and bridge the gap between the accessibility that crypto offers and the utility that is currently dominated by fiat,” he said.
Lazerpay is backed by a selection of angel investors including 4DX Ventures, Nestcoin, Nuwa Capital, Voltron Capital, Musha Ventures, Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade, and Xend Finance CEO Ugochukwu Aronu, and is currently raising its seed round. Since launching in February, it has processed around US$1 million in transactions.
“Honestly, uptake hasn’t been as fast as we anticipated, but in hindsight, that was to be expected given the skepticism around crypto – even though we deal in stablecoins. However, with the launch of our newest payouts feature, which a lot of merchants had been requesting, we envisage significantly more uptake,” he said.
For now, Lazerpay makes money primarily on transaction fees.
“There’s a tiny fee on incoming deposits as well as a fee for outgoing payments to crypto wallets or bank accounts. We want to see more crypto adoption on the continent and eventually build a network of merchants that transact in crypto. Therefore, our transaction fee for payouts to crypto wallet is currently lower than that of fiat,” Njoku said.
“With the next iteration of features we have planned, we will begin to monetise some of the commerce specific features since those will help merchants with customer behavior analysis, improved invoicing and all round enterprise financial management.”