Case Study

Fonbnk Provides an On-Ramp for Mobile-First, Cash-Based Economies


Fintech, Wallet


United States, Sub-Saharan Africa

On and off-ramps


This is Fonbnk

Fonbnk is a fintech company enabling a frictionless, financial on-ramp for emerging markets. Leveraging the existing network of mobile phone accounts, anyone with a prepaid mobile SIM card can now access the global digital economy.


Airtime: Africa's Mobile Currency

Airtime, or time spent communicating through a mobile phone via talk/text/data, functions as money in Africa and it's easy to see why. 64% of Sub-Saharan Africans own at least one smartphone as of 2021. Compared to their US or European counterparts, mobile phone users in Africa do not have the same affordable access to unlimited data plans and widely available reception; rather, they often rely on pre-paid SIM cards and buy the data they need a certain amount for their required access.

Since airtime is so valuable and readily accessible compared to other forms of mobile money, it is treated as a “de facto currency” that can be swapped out for cash or used to barter for goods and services. However, due to the lack of robust cellular infrastructure across the African continent, airtime is subject to the whims and price increases of mobile carriers. According to the Africa Report, “despite a 44% mobile penetration rate, Africa still has the world’s most expensive prepaid mobile data plans in relation to median incomes." Mobile data prices, on average, representing a staggering 8.76% of income.

In many new markets where traditional financial services have frankly just given up, I think this is an opportunity for solutions like ours, in combination with the Stellar network, to make a big difference and help the next two billion humans join the digital financial world.

Chris Duffus, CEO and founder Fonbnk


Airtime as transactable value

In a rapidly evolving digital financial landscape, Fonbnk takes a pole position, creating uninterrupted on and off-ramps on the Stellar network. The process is straightforward: when users deposit prepaid airtime credits into their Fonbnk wallets, they are directly valued in relation to the USDC on the Stellar network. Essentially, each unit of airtime credit holds a value of $0.01 in USDC, enabling users to swiftly and efficiently convert their airtime credits into USDC.

Empowered with USDC, users unlock a myriad of financial potentials. Whether procuring goods and services beyond their local offerings or seizing discounted airtime top-ups, the choices are expansive. And when it's time to transition back, USDC seamlessly converts to cash via Stellar anchors.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fonbnk's core strength is its strategic alignment with developer communities, serving as a powerful on and off-ramp within the Stellar ecosystem. By prioritizing non-tech-savvy users, Fonbnk offers an ensemble of low and no-code dApps and APIs:



  • This non-custodial web dApp streamlines integration of the Stellar network for any Web3 project. Transitioning smoothly from prepaid airtime and mobile money to bank transfers is the epitome of simplicity, integrating effortlessly into any mobile or web application's existing financial workflows.
  • Fonbnk is gearing up to unveil its seamless SEP-24 integration in late 2023, as part of its no and low-code toolkit. Developers building an app or website will be able to effortlessly tap into the Stellar ecosystem.
TopUp Widget

TopUp Widget

  • A state-of-the-art non-custodial web app, this widget revolutionizes off-ramp integrations, making prepaid mobile airtime or topping up (adding additional airtime) a cinch for any Web3 initiative. Notably, it alleviates the need for businesses to maintain float balances, as it's powered directly from customer wallet balances, all transacting in USDC on the Stellar network.
Instant Merchant Widget

Instant Merchant Widget

  • This digital marvel empowers merchants to accept payments in USDC on the Stellar network while offering customers the flexibility to pay via airtime. Seamlessly integrating with both mobile and web platforms, it's the quintessential tool to simplify and democratize business transactions.

Developer Documentation

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At its heart, Fonbnk isn't just a tool. It's a movement. It is a robust bridge into stablecoins, especially in burgeoning mobile money markets. By presenting a no-code solution, Fonbnk enriches the Stellar developer community's palette, ushering seamless conversion fro airtime to USDC.

Duffus envisions a future where Fonbnk, the leading noncustodial airtime TopUp solution for developers, revolutionizes how users access Web3. By embedding USDC on XLM offramp to airtime, which stands as an ideal micro-liquidity solution for small-value wallets, Fonbnk meets the current demand and sets the benchmark higher. This is achieved by leveraging Fonbnk's robust internal secondary market for prepaid airtime while offering the most cost-effective primary market airtime at the lowest cost per unit of access.

Furthermore, Fonbnk aims to introduce an in-app swap that enables direct, frictionless cross-border, on-chain payments. Imagine a scenario where someone in Zimbabwe can effortlessly make a payment in Nigeria, with instantaneous settlement in the respective merchant's local currency, completely bypassing traditional, centralized financial systems.

*Liquidity can be bootstrapped in any country where GSM prepaid airtime and mobile money services are available. Check out the Fonbnk website for more details.


Stellar wallet addresses supporting USDC


Gross Merchandise Value (GMV)


Countries of operation

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