Interstellar Inc. (“Interstellar”), an Enterprise Blockchain Infrastructure Services Company and Interswitch Group (“Interswitch”), Africa’s leading Integrated Payments and Digital Commerce Solutions company, have entered into a long-term strategic partnership agreement to jointly develop blockchain-powered infrastructure services and solutions.
Founded in 2017, Interstellar is a technology company that powers critical blockchain infrastructure for digital payments and financial institutions across Africa.
It was instrumental in the development and rollout of the Bantu Blockchain, the first Africa-led blockchain infrastructure and protocol.
On the other hand, founded in 2002, Interswitch’s broad network and robust payments platform have been instrumental to the development of the Nigerian payments ecosystem and provide Interswitch with credibility to expand across Africa.
It operates as an integrated technology company with digital payments, transaction processing and e-commerce capabilities and provides technology integration, advisory support, digital payments, digital commerce, financial inclusion, payment infrastructure and healthtech services across Africa.
Interswitch and Interstellar have been working together over the last two years, carrying out blockchain technology research.
As part of the partnership Interstellar’s Blockchain technology stack (STARGATE) will be integrated with Interswitch’s industry-leading payments and digital commerce technology.
This will further enhance the shared vision of the businesses to drive greater financial inclusion and prosperity across the continent.
Both companies have been preparing for the blockchain revolution in the African market with several ongoing initiatives including a Pan-African Payment Ecosystem (PAPE) powered by a private permissioned blockchain network which includes a consortium of Banks and Fintech players.
Ernest Mbenkum, founder and CEO at Interstellar, commented, “We are delighted to have established this strategic partnership with Interswitch, one of Africa’s most valuable fintech businesses. This marks the genesis of an innovative and collaborative partnership aimed at delivering impact-focused and enterprise grade blockchain-powered services across the African continent.”
Interswitch has been at the forefront of major innovation milestones in payments in Nigeria for the last 20 years, garnering recognition along the line as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Africa (Deloitte Fast-Growth 50) and gaining acclaim as the first homegrown African Fintech Unicorn following a minority investment by Visa in late 2019.
Today, Interswitch’s current business footprint covers more than 26 countries in Africa.
Akeem Lawal, divisional chief executive officer for Transaction Switching and Payment Processing at Interswitch commented, “We are excited to partner with Interstellar on this journey and we look forward to the amazing things we will achieve together in the African market. This new alliance underscores the directional evolution of our blockchain innovation strategy which is premised on our strategic intent of developing a native, proprietary enterprise-grade distributed ledger technology stack that is practically tailored to the African context. This enables us to progressively digitize multiple industry value-chains across African markets whilst also supporting the actualization of the Pan African Payment Ecosystem, riding the wave of opportunities created by such initiatives as the AfCFTA.”
The adoption of distributed ledger technology applications in Africa offers significant potential for advancing socio-economic growth, empowerment of communities, digitization of industries, lowering the costs of local and cross border payments, localization of emerging technology and the development of African tech talent.
Looking at recent trends, the African continent has been seen to be progressively embracing contemporary innovation in digital currency, with Central Banks and other payment service providers actively championing some of these interventions.
These present multiple advantages and opportunities for deepening payment systems across the continent, and this timely partnership between Interswitch and Interstellar represents another significant milestone in the journey.