- Zone’s aspirations for regulated decentralized finance (DeFi) signal a broader trend toward embracing cutting-edge technologies to overcome longstanding financial challenges.
- Zone harbours ambitious plans to reshape the financial landscape through regulated decentralized finance (DeFi).
- Zone fintech’s rebranding led to the creation of two distinct entities: Qore, representing Appzone’s cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, and Zone, the blockchain-based payment gateway.
Zone, Africa’s leading licensed blockchain payment infrastructure company, is poised to introduce a groundbreaking remittance product in 2025, unveiled by CEO Obi Emetarom in a recent discussion. Zone is developing this product to address three pivotal challenges remittance providers and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) encounter: distribution, liquidity, and licensing.
One of the critical hurdles in the remittance landscape is the necessity for robust distribution networks, particularly for startups delivering funds to recipients without direct links to local banks. Additionally, managing liquidity across diverse local currencies can be a costly endeavour. The third challenge involves navigating complex licensing requirements across various jurisdictions, adding a layer of complexity to the operational landscape.
Zone strategically positions itself to tackle these challenges head-on. Leveraging its existing connections with banks as a switch, the company plans to facilitate fund delivery without requiring direct links to local banks. Notably, Zone’s infrastructure boasts instant settlement capabilities, effectively addressing concerns related to liquidity management. In terms of licensing, the company is committed to obtaining all necessary licenses to operate seamlessly in diverse markets.
A significant regulatory development occurred in December 2023 when Nigeria’s Central Bank lifted a two-year ban on crypto-related bank accounts. The lifting of the two-year ban on crypto-related bank accounts by Nigeria’s Central Bank, coupled with stringent rules for banks opening crypto accounts, has opened new avenues for cross-border payments. Emetarom views this as a “fantastic development,” foreseeing increased opportunities for Zone in this evolving landscape.
Beyond its current role as a payments processor and switch, Zone harbours ambitious plans to reshape the financial landscape through regulated decentralized finance (DeFi). The company envisions a future that combines the strengths of blockchain technology with the legitimacy of traditional finance. Emetarom disclosed that a white paper is in the works to outline this future, positioning Zone as the foundation for this transformative shift.
Zone Fintech gears to dominate Africa’s fintech industry
Established in 2008 by Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi, Zone underwent a significant transformation in 2022, rebranding from a fintech software provider to a blockchain payment infrastructure company. This strategic shift led to the creation of two distinct entities: Qore, representing Appzone’s cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, and Zone, the blockchain-based payment gateway.
As a licensed payments switch by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Zone operates a blockchain network that facilitates direct transactions between financial service providers without intermediaries. Notably, thirteen Nigerian banks currently utilize Zone’s blockchain network for processing ATM transactions.
Zone’s revenue model charges a fee for each transaction processed through its channels. Since 2023, the startup has witnessed an increase in its daily transaction processing volume, although Emetarom did not disclose specific numbers.
Looking ahead, Zone has extensive plans to expand the use cases of its blockchain payment technology. This expansion includes venturing into online payments and direct debit services. Financial institutions anticipate that the imminent launch of Zone 2.0, a new blockchain infrastructure based on the Ethereum standard, will offer instant settlements. The startup is strategically eyeing entry into Global South markets, focusing on Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
Zone’s entry into the remittance market carries immense significance for Africa, a continent grappling with various economic challenges. The traditional hurdles faced by remittance providers and international money transfer operators (IMTOs) often result in delayed transactions and increased costs. Zone’s proactive approach positions it as a catalyst for financial inclusion. With a focus on robust distribution networks, efficient liquidity management, and navigating complex licensing requirements, Zone aligns itself with the broader goals of promoting seamless financial transactions across borders.
In a region where remittances play a crucial role in supporting households and fostering economic stability, Zone’s innovative approach could lead to more reliable and faster cross-border transactions. The ability to deliver funds without direct links to local banks and instant settlement capabilities position Zone as a transformative force in the remittance landscape.
Moreover, Zone’s aspirations for regulated DeFi signal a broader trend toward embracing cutting-edge technologies to overcome longstanding financial challenges. This forward-looking approach positions Zone as a pioneer and sets a precedent for other financial institutions to explore innovative solutions in the ever-evolving financial technology landscape.
As Africa seeks to position itself as a player in the global financial arena, Zone’s strategic moves contribute to shaping the narrative of a technologically advanced and financially inclusive continent. The integration of blockchain technology and the commitment to obtaining necessary licenses for diverse markets signify a progressive step toward establishing Africa as a hub for innovative financial solutions.
Zone’s upcoming foray into the remittance landscape reflects its commitment to addressing critical pain points in the industry. With a robust infrastructure, strategic positioning, and ambitious plans for the future of decentralized finance, Zone is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the financial landscape, both in Africa and beyond. Integrating blockchain technology with traditional finance signifies a bold step towards a more inclusive and efficient financial ecosystem.