South African start-up Wala uses crypto to facilitate micro-transactions

11 Jun, 2018
by David Robb
South African start-up Wala uses crypto to facilitate micro-transactions

Wala, a start-up company based in South Africa, has had major success across the continent through its use of cryptocurrency. The Wala mobile platform is intended to facilitate payments, and the company's recent implementation of Ethereum-based tokens has made this much cheaper and more efficient for users.

The success of Wala in South Africa as well as Zimbabwe and Uganda, enabled by the Ethereum blockchain, supports the idea that countries in the developing world stand to gain the most from adopting crypto-currencies. "We really believe cryptocurrency is what is going to drive a financial revolution in Africa," said Wala CEO Tricia Martine. 

The Wala platform is used primarily to make micro-payments of under $1, for phone top-ups, for example. The company facilitates transactions, often by buying up commodities like airtime in bulk and then selling them on on a small scale to users. The large fees charged by local banks led the company to make use of Ethereum-based 'dala' tokens. It now facilitates roughly 6,300 daily dala transactions, for more than 57,000 wallet accounts.

Over 100,000 merchants provide goods and services through Wala's platform, and the app has created the kind of small-scale circular economy that crypto enthusiasts are passionate about. Next, Wala hopes to expand to 11 more countries, including the UK. Money transfers from UK-based expats are an integral part of many African economies, but the are bogged down by delays and high transaction fees. Wala could provide an effective solution to this.

The company managed to get around Ethereum transaction fees by making use of off-chain technology microraiden, which allows transactions to be made away from the main blockchain. The next stumbling block will be scalability. This is an issue that many Ethereum users are actively trying to address, with multiple simultaneous blockchains suggested as a possible solution.

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