Cryptocurrencies have become more popular as a trading and investment option in recent years. Despite the potential benefits, it is important to acknowledge that Nigeria lacks crypto asset management companies.
It is almost certain that additional money will be spent on bitcoin initiatives across the continent as interest and adoption soar. Despite the large numbers, fewer than 1% of the total amount invested in blockchain businesses globally is attributable to Africa. These venture capital funds were allocated 96% to Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Seychelles.
While Lagos State has assumed control of the preferred destination for investors eager to purchase interests in firms using Nigeria’s growing cryptocurrency wave, Karla Obakpolor’s Crypto Smart is upending the narrative and fostering a decentralized cryptocurrency investment ecosystem in the country’s South-South.
Karla Obakpolor launched Crypto Smart in February 2021. The firm provides 24-hour customer support along with quick and secure services built on a system that is well-encrypted. From providing its services to individuals to businesses and large enterprises, Crypto Smart has expanded.
In a recent visit to Crypto Smart by a correspondent of Techeconomy, Karla Obakpolor shared her insights and primary objectives for the South-South tech ecosystem.
TE: Tell us about Crypto Smart
Karla Obakpolor: Crypto Smart is an asset management company launched in 2021. We provide services through our network, through which our organizations and individuals buy and sell crypto to make money from the industry.
In the business aspect of our services, we also do consulting services for companies that want to onboard from Web2 to Web3. We have a consultation for people who are looking to build tech-related projects or founders building startups.
In the technical aspect, we help individuals build those products. So, people who want to launch websites, portals, or, applications come to us for these. People did not trust crypto and we needed them to trust us and the technology. We had to expand our services from just crypto-related to include building business strategies for firms. That way, we were able to get people to trust us.
TE: What are some specific challenges that you have faced in the market so far?
Karla Obakpolor: At first, we had the issue of lack of understanding from individuals around us. You know, we didn’t get trust, and we needed trust to be able to offer the services that we offer to people.
The next challenge that we faced was that of getting developers. I had built an online NFT marketplace for Africans before now, but it did not do so well. This is because we had developer issues during that period. I made us decide that before building any product, we must ensure we have an effective tech team. At the end of 2021, we called for developers to join our team. In 2022, it was easier to handle projects. Although we had the issue of financing our developer needs, we were able to get some developers on board.
We had to teach some developers who wanted to move into the Web3 space from the Web2. Aside from teaching them how to go into different documentation, I also taught them how to handle the business side of things.
As soon as they could handle these things by themselves, I onboarded them into the company to run these services for individuals and firms. This is how we started Borderless. We wanted to build a network of people who could help bring ideas to life and create value.
TE: Tell us about Borderless
Karla Obakpolor: We started Borderless with two laptops (mine and that of the CTO). We volunteered our time and put resources together to reach out to people who wanted to learn. In 2022, I wrote to Algorand for sponsorship, and after going through my proposal, they agreed. Their financing helped us acquire a tech hub in Port Harcourt, buy laptops, hire some admin staff, pay other staff, and organize an event we held last year.
So this year, it is going to be a lot bigger. We decided to focus on students in tertiary institutions and train them to learn these tech skills. There is also a programme for schools looking to partner with us to allow students to learn these tech skills at very subsidized fees. The fee will be added to the student’s tuition fee, and they will not have to pay any other fee to take our courses. This way, students do not just leave school with certificates but also with employable skills.
To achieve this, we have been visiting several schools. We are looking to first create student communities and set up tech hubs in several tertiary institutions in the South-South, starting from Port Harcourt.
How favorable has the Port Harcourt ecosystem been in terms of funding and partnerships?
Karla Obakpolor: At first, it was not so favourable and I didn’t get any support. But we tried to remain consistent with what we were doing at Crypto Smart, and people are beginning to take note of us. We are on the brink of agreeing to a partnership with a big tech firm in Port Harcourt. I believe I am wiser now; there is more publicity now, and people are asking lots of questions about Crypto Smart.