We talked to Christian Duffus of Fonbnk about its mobile solution and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Christian Duffus: Thank you for asking. We are doing well. Not only do I have a start-up, but I am a new father, so I have two new babies.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Fonbnk.
Christian Duffus: I am a reluctant architect. My father persuaded me to go into the business though I still like to build things that people use as part of their way of life, why FinTech. I am a 3-X FinTech entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in financial and wireless technology. I actually started Fonbnk as part of a wager with my brother-in-law back in 2018. I began trading Kenyan Prepaid, mobile airtime credits from Washington, DC and subsequently re-invested the proceeds into the current venture across all leading African markets.
As the Founder and CEO, I aspire to transform Fonbnk into a network processor like a Visa or Mastercard, utilizing our unique distributed ledger solution, creating a seamless, ubiquitous quilt that drives a sustainable business model. I have demonstrated experience required to fully execute this venture; built and sold 3 FinTech ventures (most recent exit to SoFi), developed leading wireless industry standards (investors included KPCB, Redpoint, CRV, True Ventures) in spectrum allocation, including the sale of intellectual property to Qualcomm (US8290848B2).
How does Fonbnk innovate?
Christian Duffus: Simply, our innovation strategy is that we listen to customers religiously. We have many direct feedback loops that I personally am involved in.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Christian Duffus: It’s fortunately been good for our business as we are a mobile-first solution that targets markets where there is a significant gap in mobile access due to affordability. We address this with our unique value proposition, free and low-cost broadband access.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Christian Duffus: We doubled down in terms of listening to what our customers needed vs. what we wanted.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Fonbnk in the future?
I deal with this now by playing with my infant son. I think about all his potential, and it puts everything into perspective for me, Fonbnk, and our vision to drive financial inclusion through affordable broadband access.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Christian Duffus: We have many competitors in the mobile money and remittance space though I view ourselves as a substitute, not a direct alternative. We have a new technology that makes it more profitable for our customers and us to exchange value globally, removing barriers and friction.
Your final thoughts?
Christian Duffus: How can we dream for the betterment of mankind? If we are rich, it is because we are full of love and goodwill towards one another.
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