InterviewFinTech Interview with Ugochuwu Aronu, CEO and co-founder, Xend Finance

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskAugust 24, 202220 min

Ugochuwu Aronu highlights how Xend Finance charged the adoption of Crypto and DeFi in Africa

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Ugochuwu Aronu,CEO and co-founder, Xend Finance

Ugochukwu Aronu is the Founder and CEO of Xend Finance. After graduating from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with a degree in Electronics Engineering, Ugochukwu began his career at KPMG in Nigeria. He founded Xend Finance in 2020, raising strategic capital from Binance and Google Launchpad, amongst others. Xend Finance has gone on to become the fastest-growing blockchain and DeFi company out of Africa, allowing people to convert their local currency to stable cryptocurrency or US Dollars and earn up to 15% interest annually when saving on the platform. Ugochukwu has been interviewed and featured in TechCrunch, Coindesk, Decrypt, Techpoint Africa, and the Nigerian Tribune. Xend FInance recently won the award for "Most Outstanding Alternative Use of the Blockchain 2021".

1. Can you give us a brief about yourself?
I’m Ugochuwu Aronu, the CEO and co-founder of Xend Finance. My background is engineering, probably because I studied Electronics Engineering, but I have always been fascinated by technologies and wanted to understand how they work, from first principles (starting with basic knowledge).

2. How long have you been in the DeFi space professionally?
I got into DeFi and blockchain sometime in 2017. A colleague shared some Ethereum resources about how one can build a cool app that runs on a decentralized network, and I was fascinated and curious at the same time. I read everything I could to understand how the technology worked and ended up building what is probably the first wallet system to store Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies. It was not easy to build, but that got me to understand the technology better, and I have been building several web 3.0 applications with my team since then.

3. Why Xend Finance? What problems brought on the need for Xend Finance?
We built Xend Finance during the COVID-19 economic challenge when the Naira, Nigeria’s fiat currency, was devalued, and I thought that building a DeFi solution that people in developing countries could use to save in stable currencies like BUSD would be cool. It happened that the value of the Naira kept on decreasing after that, and people aligned with the idea of saving in stable currencies to hedge against inflation. I have personally been happy to see Xend Finance grow and be the biggest DeFi project from Africa.

4. What are the specific solutions Xend Finance has created to solve these problems?
We first created a platform where people can save in stable currencies like BUSD and USDT and earn compounded interest by integrating and aggregating existing DeFi protocols. It did not take long to notice that the interest started to decrease as users saved and locked more funds. We also envisioned a future where we have a huge percentage of funds flowing from traditional finance to DeFi, and we realized our current infrastructure would not be able to generate good interest on the deposit. This led us to build our own DeFi protocol, which we call Xend Finance AutoYield. It offers the highest compounded interest in stable currencies when compared with other DeFi protocols.
Also, we thought that the fastest way to grow and onboard the vast population of Africa and users in developing countries is by building infrastructure for developers that they can use to build DeFi applications. Such infrastructures are SwitchWallet, XendBridge, and the SDK/API for our AutoYield.

SwitchWallet – A wallet infrastructure for startups and businesses, built and secured by the award-winning technical team at Xend Finance. With our easy and secure wallet infrastructure for businesses, leveraging our Blockchain technology, you can securely process transactions in a fraction of the time while saving costs and keeping your customers/consumers within your ecosystem.

XendBridge – XendBridge allows businesses to easily accept and transact between fiat and stablecoins through our API while saving costs, enabling your customers to transact across fiat and stablecoins while keeping them glued within your community.

5. What makes Xend Finance different from other DeFi companies?

What makes us different is our target audience and approach. We mostly target non-crypto savvy users, which means we have to abstract the complexities that come with web 3.0 and make it easy for users to use DeFi.

We did this with our mobile app, through which we have onboarded more than 120k users.
We also believe in creating products that add value to people’s lives, as opposed to most vaporware that exists in the DeFi space.
Xend Finance also differs from other DeFi companies based on our ecosystem. We have built infrastructure to support other blockchain companies as well as created a growing developer community that has supported over 200 active developers at this moment. We organized the largest blockchain hackathon in Africa in 2021 with a grant of up to $120,000 and an investment pool of up to $1,000,000 for new blockchain startups.

6. How has Xend Finance charged the adoption of Crypto and DeFi in Africa?
As the first DeFi project to launch out of Africa, we have taken the responsibilities that come with that in educating the community within Africa about DeFi, its use cases, and applications. Our major focus has been on building a strong community of developers that will build amazing web 3.0 applications to tackle some of the major challenges facing Africa. We have done this by organizing hackathons, sponsoring events, and creating an educational platform which we call all content creators to create learning content to publish.
We are also spending resources on building infrastructures that other developers can easily integrate into their products and offer DeFi services to their users. Building such services from the ground up can be time-consuming and very expensive (it costs a lot to audit a smart contract, for example).

7. What milestones has the company achieved since its inception?
We are proud of what we have achieved so far and are excited about the future. So far, we have:

  • Launched our native DeFi protocol which offers the highest interest on stable currencies.
  • Launched a mobile app we call the ‘first crypto bank wallet app’ which abstracted the complexities of web3.0 to make onboarding of non-crypto users easy. We have more than 120K users using the mobile app currently.
  • Organized the biggest hackathon in Africa with industry leaders as guest speakers and judges.
  • Built the first launchpad for Africa projects that wants to go public, acquire users and raise funds.
  • Built the first wallet service and on/off ramp fiats/cryptocurrencies infrastructure for African developers.
    We still have more to come, so pay close attention.

8. One of the major challenges of DeFi adoption is proper education and simplification of these technologies. How has Xend Finance helped with that?
Xend Finance has a free blockchain and DeFi education platform, Xend Finance Academy. https://learn.xend.finance/. We also spent resources to make the user experience and onboarding smoother for new users.

9. How does Xend Finance intend to stay relevant when local currencies begin to increase in value and the inflation rate drops?
From previous economic data, the inflation rate dropping across all countries of the globe sounds so farfetched. That said, we don’t see the inflation rate dropping across developing countries, but if it does, our protocol can be updated to add DeFi strategies that will compete with interest rates offered by traditional finance, and this means we will still remain relevant.
Our infrastructure will still be used by businesses even if the inflation rate drops.

10. What should we expect from Xend Finance in the coming months?

  • Scaling Xend Bridge to support multiple local currencies such as KES, USD, Euro, etc
  • Expansion and support of other regions
  • Launch of other new DeFi products.

11. What is the biggest piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
To keep building, filter the noise, and stay consistent.

12. Which motivational quote drives you to achieve more at work?
Not really a quote per se, but I believe that Africans should also be developers and builders of technologies used by the rest of the world and not just consumers. To stay relevant, you have to build things that are relevant!

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FTB News Desk

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