Celo, Bison Trails partnership
Cryptocurrencies,  Technology

Celo, Bison Trails partner on straight-to-phone number payments

Celo is going to be integrated into the Bison Trails platform, helping to secure the stablecoin network as it seeks to boost financial inclusion for the unbanked

Sending digital currencies directly to a phone number instead of a long-winded blockchain address might be getting a little easier.

Celo Bison Trails partnership
Celo co-founder Rene Reinsberg (Photo: Celo)

Digital payments firm Celo’s technology is designed to bolster levels of financial inclusion—and now, it is being supported by Bison Trails, the companies announced on May 7.

The blockchain infrastructure-as-a-service company has long been a supporter of Celo, and was a founding member of its Alliance for Prosperity. Bison Trails is also a member of the Facebook-founded Libra Association, creating a global stablecoin transferable over social media.

Fifty organizations were part of the Celo Alliance at launch, which has the stated goal of increasing blockchain adoption dramatically with mobile phone-based financial tools.. In 2019, TechJury data suggested that just 0.5% of the world’s population were able to benefit from this technology and 90% of Bitcoin’s users were men.

Bison Trails says it believes Celo has the potential to become a global driver of financial inclusion—not least because of how mobile payments are the lifeblood of many developing economies.

Securing the network

Celo’s decentralized platform enables blockchain-based payments using cUSD stablecoins and local currencies to be sent directly to cell phone numbers. This could prove to be a silver bullet for adoption—long wallet addresses can be intimidating for everyday users who aren’t familiar with cryptocurrencies, especially considering the risk that funds can be lost if they aren’t typed in correctly.

Celo Bison Trails partnership
Bison Trails CEO Joe Lallouz (Photo: Bison Trails)

Through the new partnership, Celo will be integrated into the Bison Trails’ proof-of-stake platform, helping to secure the network.

Bison Trails says Celo has made smart technical and protocol decisions that will enable wallet users to begin transacting easily immediately after launch, not least because of how it has chosen to support stablecoins from the outset.

“At Bison Trails, we believe building robust blockchain infrastructure, that keeps networks decentralized and enables them to scale securely, is critical to their success. We share the Alliance’s vision of a world in which intuitive technology lowers the barriers to participating in a more inclusive and decentralized financial system,” CEO Joe Lallouz said.

As you might expect, the enthusiasm was reciprocated by Celo.

“As both a member of the Celo Alliance for Prosperity and an active participant in Celo’s incentivized testnet, Bison Trails has demonstrated early and continuous commitment to the Celo community. I’m grateful to their team of protocol experts and engineers as they contribute to the protocol’s development and securing the Celo network,” co-founder Rene Reinsberg added.

A growing Alliance

Celo Bison Trails partnership
Celo’s growing Alliance for Prosperity (Photo: Celo)

Two days earlier, on May 5, Celo announced that its Alliance for Prosperity has grown from 51 to 75 new members in two months.

“We are excited to see the Alliance grow by 50% since our initial announcement in March, with organizations committed to creating prosperity, especially in Africa and Latin America, said Chuck Kimble, a partner at Celo developer cLabs and head of the Alliance for Prosperity.

“There has never been a more perfect time for a project like Celo to emerge and redefine money, especially in Africa,” added Grey Jabesi of the United Africa Blockchain Association, one of the new members.

Other new members include: Ankr, Althea, Bitfy, Blockchain Education Network, Coinfirm, Centrifuge, Dove Wallet, Dunia Pay, Grin, Hex Trust, LatAmTech, Mobike, MyCash Online, Netki, Ontology, Paxful, Peixe, Positive Blockchain, Ribon, Transak, and Yellow.

Poverty busters

As reported by Modern Consensus, Celo is putting its money where its mouth is by launching a virtual accelerator program designed to encourage up-and-coming businesses and developers to build mobile phone-based financial apps on its proof-of-stake blockchain.

Eighteen finalists are being given eight weeks of mentorship from industry leaders, and the contest’s winner has the chance to walk away with a $10,000 prize.

The Celo Foundation’s Alliance for Prosperity was announced back in March. At the time, Reinsberg said the aim is to “use blockchain technology to reimagine the future of money and create inclusive financial tools.”

He added: “From sending money home across borders to donating to a humanitarian organization, we want to make sure that money arrives in the right hands, not in the pockets of a middleman.”

With an impressive roll call of founding members, and a new partnership to boot, Celo’s challenge now will be establishing meaningful connections with the 1.7 billion people on Earth who are unbanked—a population that can be hard to reach even though many of them have mobile phones.

C Sephton is a journalist with an interest in cryptocurrencies, personal finance, and financial inclusion—as well as the challenges the crypto industry faces in achieving mainstream adoption. He owns cryptocurrencies.