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Pascal Ntsama and Oyedeji Oluwoye Have Raised $2.3M In A Seed Round For Their Web3 Neo Fintech Bank Designed To Improve Africa’s Infrastructure

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Canza Finance’s co-founders are leaning into Web3 to financially empower the African continent.

Pascal Ntsama IV and Oyedeji Oluwoye are looking to create “the world’s largest non-institutional-based financial system” through the creation of Canza Finance, the company website mentions.

They both share distinct journeys on how they arrived to the company’s inception. For Chief Technology Officer Oluwoye — born in Nigeria, Africa, and raised in Sydney, Australia, before moving to the United States at 14 — he began taking various CompTIA Certifications, early-career data analytics certification, during his senior year of high school. After graduation, he headed to the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

While in college, he was able to secure a position with Adtran, a networking and telecommunications company based in the U.S., as a co-op engineer. He then transitioned to work at AT&T as a senior specialist-network design engineer for two years and senior specialist-network planning engineer for his remaining post at the company, which ended in 2017.

During his tenure, Oluwoye pursued an online master’s degree in computer science and made the decision to center his thesis around finance. It was while doing research that he was introduced to the concept of Bitcoin.

“I had to pick a topic, and I was like, ‘OK, I know a lot about network engineering.’ I’ve been doing that since I was 17,” Oluwoye said. “And then I was like, ‘OK, you had to really start learning about the 401(k)s and savings, so when I started learning about things I dived into a big rabbit hole, learned about money and ended up finding a YouTube video that was saying the internet of money. “I felt like that was both parts really coming together. And then I went a little bit further and found out about Bitcoin. That was 2015. So I picked the topic on the network infrastructure analysis of the Bitcoin network, and I defended in spring 2016. And then from there it is just trying to get involved in the space,” he noted.

Oluwoye’s interest would align with Ntsama, whom he met while enrolled in AT&T’s 2019 Network Leadership Program class. Canza Finance CEO Ntsama, born in Cameroon, Africa, and raised in Atlanta, GA, was working at AT&T as a product manager at the time. The pair shared similarities in terms of moving to the U.S. in their early teen years and being exposed to technology while a senior in high school. What ultimately would forge their journeys as co-founders in 2020 was a shared interest in improving Africa. They are also now joined by Victor Teixeira, the company’s lead crypto economist.

“Very early on we started the conversation about how can we bring impact back towards the continent with all of the exposure and expertise that we’ve been fortunate to receive,” Ntsama said. “So early on in our career, we started as small as possible from just outreach events, talking about tech to high school students. In some cases I went to kindergartens at some point, but then it evolved quite fast to us looking at different governments, RFP for technology projects, to us then forming a company around the Web3.”

Through Canza Finance, the purpose is to streamline the financial services sector by improving cross payments for entrepreneurs on the African continent. At the time of this writing, the platform’s reach includes Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, U.S. and United Arab Emirates.

Canza Finance has a slew of service offerings that leverage stable cryptocurrencies instead of U.S. dollars to handle sourcing the funds in order to fulfill the payment. The founders believe this is necessary on the continent where nearly half remain unbanked and cash is still the primary driver for payment, according to The World Economic Forum.

In addition, African currencies are losing value, resulting in inflation that affects the multitudes who rely on imported goods. CNBC reports that this includes Nigeria, a country with more than 210 million people, which is experiencing an inflation rate of 30%, a record-breaking low for Africa’s largest economy.

“The U.S. dollar is the top circulating currency in the world. So if you have to import goods, you need large amounts of dollars. This is probably like the biggest problem in the continent,” Ntsama explained. “The fact that if you were buying dollars you would be competing with several other people, and as a result you’d be buying the dollars for way more expensive than the global value. So for us coming into this market and providing solutions and avenues for customers, it’s our life mission. It’s way deeper than just creating an application or creating a service. You are changing the experience of what being banked means or being financially served means.”

Oluwoye added, “We always wanted to make sure Africa had a seat at the table. When we look at all the big institutions when it comes towards traditional finances, you know, it was much more in the West, and Africa didn’t really have that face pertaining to a really trusted partner to get in and out of the digital assets.”

Additionally, the company offers a Canza Crypto Teller Machine (CTM) enabling customers to convert fiat currency into cryptocurrencies (on-ramps) and vice versa (off-ramps) directly at the machine. The founders see great potential in the CTM for areas that are not structured for an over-the-counter (OTC) market, which is the exchange of securities between two parties outside of formal exchanges and without exchange regulator oversight, Corporate Finance Institute reports.

In December 2023, the company introduced its latest integration, the Baki.exchange, which is described as an “infinite liquidity exchange for African currencies,” per its website.

“We created synthetic digital assets around the South African ramp, XAF, which is the West African Franc, and then also the Nigerian NARA as well. So within that we can swap in and out of these assets with no slippage,”  Oluwoye explained. “So traditionally when you’re doing a regular OTC deal in the TriFi side, you always have to go back to the dollar. So what we did is that now you can have your West African Franc, and then you can switch it directly into South African ramp or utilizing Web3 architecture.”

The advancement of Canza Finance has been supported through a total of $5.5 million in funding, with its most recent raise reportedly amounting to $2.3 million through a seed round in January 2024 led by Polychain Capital with participation from Protocol Labs, Ava Labs, 99 Capital, and Stratified Capital.

Over the years, the company has also gained support from companies including Bitscale Capital, Hashkey Capital, and NGC Ventures. Looking ahead, they plan to bring more partners on board who are looking to not only build on their existing technology but create opportunities towards the African market.





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