Fariha Raisa, Feedback Labs | September 16, 2022
Fonbnk is a global marketplace that enables participants to convert prepaid mobile phone airtime into digital money. The first step in this platform starts with registering an account with a phone number which then allows users to swap airtime in a trusted market. The process is completed when airtime gets converted to digital money and is deposited in the account wallet of the user. Fonbnk has emerged as a unique financial onramp to Traditional Financial Services (MPESA+Blockchain) as well as Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Web3, the decentralized internet of the future. Founder & CEO, Chris Duffus was eager to explore Fonbnk applications for NGOs and other prospective partners, and presented in a LabStorm to brainstorm ideas for expanding Fonbnk in marginalized communities.
LabStorm attendees shared suggestions and ideas in response to Fonbnk’s challenges. Discussions revealed the following insights:
Nonprofit education and transparency. To buy-in nonprofits in developing countries into a partnership with Fonbnk, attendees recommended organizing educational programs for NGOs. With transparency at the forefront of this novel venture, it was recommended to communicate the risks involving cryptocurrency. Attendees suggested highlighting the benefits of cryptocurrency in comparison to the local currency, particularly in regions where inflation is high and people are losing confidence in the local exchange market. Overall, because digital currency is still a new concept in many communities, people might have fear of the unknown, and thus highlighting the importance of providing cryptocurrency education and awareness was recommended as a significant step towards expansion.
Listening to the users. Another key discussion point revolved around asking questions to the users about what is most interesting to them. In the nonprofit sector, people might have different opinions and goals. They might also be concerned about capital flight. Hence, instead of assuming awareness and the demands of the users in the market, participants pointed out the need for seeking suggestions from the current users to be incorporated into the long-term strategy plan.
Expansion for buyers. Since users can sell airtime and the entire transaction can be completed in seconds, the subtle challenge is to find adequate buyers to enable these transactions. To expand the automated marketplace that will resell discounted airtime, LabStorm attendees suggested potential use cases citing examples of the digital market in South Asia and immigrants in South America. The idea revolved around the possibility of providing microgrants to families who are crossing borders and can sell airtime. Another idea for the buyer side of the minutes was to partner up with NGOs to bulk purchase airtime. Attendees suggested partnering up with organizations already providing digital services to expand on their offerings to include cryptocurrency.
At the end of the hour-long discussion and brainstorming, Chris suggested the following takeaways from the conversations to be included in the work of Fonbnk:
- To make the work of Fonbnk more impactful, it would be crucial to listen to the stakeholders. Following a “supply chain of care” would encapsulate empathy in the mission of Fonbnk to expand in emerging markets.
- Since the expansion is limited by economic sustainability, Fonbnk has an open architecture and an open source product to make it more accessible. The next step could be to connect with the youth in countries like Bangladesh, Guyana, Mexico, or India to expand on the global market.
- There still remain many uncharted options to explore, including partnering up with existing NGOs and having educational awareness surrounding cryptocurrency to stimulate demand in the automated airtime to digital currency market.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.