We talked to Neil Ferreira about how Safcoin is Africa’s crypto, wallet, and exchange platform, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Neil Ferreira: We have the “it is what it is” approach, and staying positive, respecting the situation, and supporting each other in good or bad days as a family is our motto. In these tough pandemic times, we have realized that health, love, and family comes before the rushed daily routines we used to be in, without even noticing it before. So if you look at the positives in the adverse situation, you will be OK. We spend more time together in the lockdowns than you would do in the “normal” life before, so it’s not all bad. Time will fix the economy, school days, socializing, etc., time is the most precious asset on earth, and it comes free.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Safcoin Africa?
Neil Ferreira: It is 2017, winter in South Africa, and we are two brothers and a wife discussing our current South African E-Commerce business. Some great topics come up. Then the concept arises, let’s create an African crypto, just an idea? Right? These five words will later take over our lives in terms of time, energy, and savings. After sleeping on the thought, we turned the idea into planning. “Let’s do this; let’s take on the world and create an Africa-focused cryptocurrency, combine it with e-commerce, and build use-cases – a powerful combination.” With the blockchain world smashing into the scene in South Africa, the writing was on the wall.
Entering a new blockchain world, we knew we were in for plenty of obstacles, ready to learn several lessons, with infinite determination a must.
The Safcoin Launch
Neil Ferreira: The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
While our ICO was having fun online, in the news, on TV, blogging sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc., there were pungent decisions to be made, combined with intense software development, security audits, algorithms, coin testing, mining testnet, applications, integrations, etc. to be done for the launch. Ever wonder how you receive that OTP, the email verification, KYC uploads, tokens to coins migration, exchange executions on a blockchain, password forget, automated withdrawals, t card deposits, wallet hacking security, real-time experience, done in no time to waste?
All God’s will, we magically did it. “If you see an opportunity, you grab it, and then you learn how to do it.”
After planning and research, we started our development. Then came the coffee and testing, and extremely little sleep. In between being fathers, husbands, a mom, and a wife, we just had to magically create the time and energy for this project to start rolling its big heavyweight wheel. Ideas don’t come out fully formed; they only become clear as you work on them. You have to get started.
How does Safcoin Africa innovate?
Neil Ferreira: We innovate in FinTech, blockchain, eCommerce, and the 4IR. Our innovation includes blockchain technology developments, cryptocurrency, Tokenization, e-commerce, payment solutions, wallets, apps, and so much more. Keeping with modern trends is a passion for all of us here at Safcoin. We will keep on driving technology and digital financial solutions into Africa, especially emerging markets. With extensive experience in e-commerce development, online payment processing, API building and implementation, marketing, design, and knowledge of online regulations, the team decided to expand into the blockchain and cryptocurrency market with a mission to reduce financial bottlenecks for Africa’s citizens.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Neil Ferreira: Well, obviously, we were set back this year to drive mission into other African countries. We just had to adjust, amend our planning, and execute differently. We spend a lot of time developing and building our ecosystem. As an African FinTech company, we have established ourselves, now being at the forefront of the 4IR, making a huge difference. The Corona pandemic has forced many businesses into innovations and forced many to close down. We are very fortunate and humbled to be in a situation to be able to cope through this year and move into new promising innovations.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Neil Ferreira: Being a digital company, we were fortunate to be in a position to carry on with our business without huge interruption. Marketing and events promotions and those kinds of business were a massive setback for growth. So we didn’t have to make too fatal difficult decisions. The biggest ones were to cut costs and end partnerships. This was tricky because it derails your plans completely, let alone setbacks the partners and other companies going through economic stress. So we did cut on costs and ended some relationships for the time being. I’ve learned so much about making quick, efficient decisions that are good for the company in the long run and not for personal gains in the short run. If you stick to your original plans of where you want your business to be in 5 or 10 years, then you can stay focused on this, even in fluctuating times. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned in my entrepreneurial career was always focusing on where you want your business to go. Listen to your customers. Get-up, dress-up, and show up.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Neil Ferreira: Exercise. Take my dog to the beach. No phone! And I love playing cricket with my boy—a Good South African beer at a fire with my wife. Always try to stay calm when problems hit the fan in any situation. Remember, life dishes out blows; there’s nothing you can change in many situations. I’ve learned to look for a solution and not stress into a problem. Stay healthy, eat smart, and stay calm; that’s my advice to young start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Neil Ferreira: We are an African born and bred company; we have to compete against first world countries entering our continent. It is challenging, but it keeps us determined to succeed as an African company. We know our people, know our markets, listen to our people, and believe we can compete successfully.
We like to partner with local companies in the technical and FinTech environment rather than competing with them. We learn from the international market, obviously, and we distribute our experiences, knowledge, and ecosystems across to emerging businesses in Africa. Our mission is to educate, grow, and partner in Africa with Africa. Success is best when it’s shared. There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.
We will keep on innovating and staying parallel with the first world revolution.
Your final thoughts?
Neil Ferreira: Africa has many challenges, and Covid just tripled that. We have evolved as a powerful continent past and current. We will get through this pandemic together again. I believe we here in Africa are unique with so much potential, creativeness, determination, love, culture, passion, belief, religions.
Stay positive, Africa. We will get through this.
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