This transcript covers an event called “Celo in Uganda,” which aims to shed light on Uganda’s efforts towards achieving financial inclusion. The event is part of the monthly Victoria Ventures series, highlighting the work of Celo in Uganda. The host, Kumar Sahara, introduces himself as the Eco lead at Philip working on Celo for Uganda. The guest speaker is Anka Bach Danilot, who works in strategic partnerships, policy, and advocacy at C Labs, with expertise in financial inclusion and FinTech.
Financial inclusion refers to the accessibility and utilization of quality and affordable financial services, including loans, savings, insurance, and payment facilities. Uganda has a National Financial Inclusion strategy launched in 2017, aimed at addressing gaps hindering full financial inclusion. One of the challenges is the one-size-fits-all approach to opening bank accounts, which requires the same level of customer identification documents. The strategy proposes using national identification verification systems to allow service providers to verify identities more efficiently.
Several organizations in Uganda have made progress in promoting financial inclusion. The Bank of Uganda has been flexible in regulating mobile money and fostering innovation in the financial sector. The Uganda Bankers Association introduced agency banking and a shared platform for inter-operable services among banks. The government’s initiative support program under the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has provided grants to innovators in the ICT ecosystem, promoting financial inclusion and innovation.
Celo’s blockchain protocol enables secure and decentralized transactions through smart contracts. It shares ancestry with Ethereum and maintains compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) smart contracts. Celo offers technical innovations, including stable currencies backed by a shared reserve, making them more stable and reliable. Celo’s identity protocol allows users to send and receive payments using phone numbers instead of complex addresses, simplifying the user experience. Additionally, Celo facilitates onboarding and integration with messaging apps like WhatsApp.
Celo has garnered interest from various sectors and organizations for its potential impact on financial inclusion. Government institutions and development agencies value Celo’s transparency, trackability, and immutability for fund transfers. Celo collaborates with over 90 institutions as part of the Alliance for Prosperity, aiming to foster social impact and financial inclusion through blockchain technology. Celo’s fast and cost-effective transaction validation makes it attractive to technology firms, nonprofits, and mobile wallets.
Education and awareness remain crucial for widespread crypto adoption in Africa. By understanding use cases and the problems blockchain solves, adoption can follow. Regulatory adjustments that consider the specificity of blockchain technology while protecting consumers are also important. Privacy misconceptions surrounding blockchain should be addressed, as public projects like Celo can be tracked effectively. Education and adoption will lead to the realization of blockchain’s potential in solving financial inclusion challenges.
The event concludes with a discussion of Celo’s micro-work earn pilot, which explores ways to enable faster and cheaper transfers of smaller amounts. Celo continues to work with partners and regulators, including central banks, to explore opportunities for digital currencies and interoperability. Education and understanding the benefits of blockchain technology remain the primary obstacles to crypto adoption in Africa. The session ends with an invitation for further collaboration and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.