Grammy-award winning artist and producer Akon is pushing forward with bringing his cyber-dreams to life. He has integrated Akoin, his Stellar-based cryptocurrency, with BitMinutes, a token built as an asset, the universal prepaid airtime minute. The utility is clear, as prepaid minutes already act as an informal currency in many developing communities. This is especially so in Africa, which is where Akon hopes to first launch his financial inclusion initiatives.
Akoin Looks to Build a Token-Based Financial System Across Africa Built on BitMinutes Technology
Akon recent launched the Akoin, his cryptocurrency, on the Stellar network. Akoin is positioned as the foundation of the “Akoin Ecosystem,” a platform that offers “experiences and opportunities for youth entrepreneurs by allowing consumers to buy, hold, and spend cryptocurrency right from their smartphone through a suite of blockchain-powered apps.”
BitMinutes is the first of those platform apps, and could be the most powerful as it brings a cash-in, cash-out option for prepaid mobile phone minutes. Currently minutes are trapped within each mobile operator’s ecosystem, and it is a one-way transaction. Once bought, prepaid airtime cannot be converted back into cash. BitMinutes breaks the prepaid minute out of both constraints.
This is such a productive application because millions of people across Africa have limited or no access to financial institutions; they have been relying on prepaid mobile phone minutes to use as a form of currency to settle peer-to-peer debts, pay bills and buy goods.
By working together, Akoin and BitMinutes plan to tackle this issue and enable users to transact using a financial model they are familiar with, according to Lynn Liss, COO at Akoin.
“Our relationship with BitMinutes provides the cornerstone for how we achieve our shared vision for bringing financial inclusion to rising economies such as Africa; starting with prepaid minutes as a medium of exchange was a clear pathway for us given the store of value people in Africa already recognize there, and is the first step in bringing more users into our blockchain-based economy we’re developing at Akoin.”
BitMinutes will offer Akoin holders free money transfers to 1.2 billion accounts across Africa and free mobile top-up for four billion mobile phones. The firm will also provide access to prepaid airtime capabilities and micro-lending and “cash in/out services.”
Tom Meredith, CEO at BitMinutes, explained:
“The BitMinutes application is not only practical, but intuitive for these regions… Leveraging this growing store of value already found in prepaid minutes, BitMinutes expanded services also include micro-lending where prepaid minutes serve as collateral. Trusted Area Network (TAN) agents are highly vetted and become BitMinutes micro-lending agents, in addition to providing cash in and cash out services to those using the platform.”
Akoin calls partnership apps like BitMinutes “decentralized applications” or dApps. This dApp is expected to launch onto the Stellar-powered blockchain in the second quarter of 2020, enabling Akoin holders to swap a portion of their tokens into BitMinutes, to use as airtime or exchange with other individuals or local businesses for goods and services.