This Developer Switched To Blockchain Development To Solve Web2 Problems
Akinyemi Akindele27 years old, studied computer science at the University of Ibadan, where he trained as a Web2 software developer.
However, his journey into the world of blockchain only started when he got an internship in 2015 at Interswitch, one of Africa’s first unicorns. At Interswitch, he worked in the research and development team where he had the opportunity to test interesting emerging technologies like AI and blockchain, technologies that the company was not focusing on at that time- the.
Akindele was deeply rooted in blockchain and quickly realized its power. “People were talking about the future of finance and I started working on it very early on,” Akindele said. As a Nigerian familiar with the rapid decline in the value of the naira, Akindele resonated with the promise of bitcoin to provide a store of value not tied to the traditional financial system or the whims of the government.
He was a man of varied interests, his college dissertation was based on artificial intelligence (AI) – with a focus on artificial neural networks. After graduating from college, he returned to work at Interswitch and began learning how to develop blockchain solutions. Eventually, he was able to build a blockchain supply chain solution with his team, the first of its kind in the country, he said. The blockchain solution made the lending and contract award process involving Dangote Plc’s suppliers and tender banks transparent.
Akindele attended hackathons and Ethereum meetups organized by Consensys in Lagos, where he had to create smart contracts on Ethereum. He has won some – worth N1-3 million – and it has been essential to the growth of his career. He admitted that he won many of these hackathons because he already had a lot of experience building Ethereum solutions at his workplace, Interswitch.
In one of the hackathons, he met an American founder, Daniel Block, who was building an NFT marketplace for properties, as early as 2018. He was on a mission to tokenize real estate properties in Africa, had digitized land records in Ghana, and had his eyes on Nigeria.
Akindele joined Block’s company, SESO Global, as its first blockchain engineer, where he helped build an NFT marketplace. There he spent a year building their ethereum businessand wrote smart contract code to power these NFTs, years before the NFT buzz of 2021.
A wealth of blockchain development experience
It was in one of these hackathons, where he had been an exceptional competitor, that Akindele met Yele Bademosi, co-founder of Nestcoin, who was then a director of Binance Labs, the venture capital arm of the global crypto exchange, Binance. Yele was a judge in these hackathons and he kept in touch with Akindele due to his outstanding performance. So when Yele needed a team to start an internal project within Binance, he reached out to Akindele.
Akindele joined Binance, where he earned around $48,000 a year, as a blockchain engineer, and along with a team of backend, mobile, and blockchain engineers, helped build a cryptocurrency exchange from the ground up. “It was interesting because we learned a lot of new things. For example, I did a lot of encryption, wallet generation, and signing; and got to know a lot of different coins listed on the stock exchange.
Akindele recalled that the project started when Facebook announced Libra, a cryptocurrency, wallet and exchange, all in one. “It felt like the hottest thing ever!” Akindele further explained that Binance feared that Facebook would take over developing countries due to the scope of the proposed Libra, so Binance launched a competing project, which gave birth to Bundle Africa.
At the time, Bundle Africa operated as a startup within Binance and was also a remote business. In 16 months, Bundle Africa attracted 650,000 users, mostly through word of mouth, community marketing and a small marketing budget. The surge in its adoption made Akindele realize the enormous potential of crypto products.
After two years at Binance, Akindele joined EMTECH, an American blockchain company that creates digital currency for central banks around the world. At EMTECH, where he earned around $84,000 a year, he helped create tokens, did DevOps work, and helped ship projects. EMTECH had created the world’s first CBDC for the Bahamas and was the go-to fintech company for central banks looking to create digital currencies.
Get started with blockchain development
Another idea that endeared Akindele to blockchain engineering was that blockchain was a melting point for many things. “To be really good at blockchain, you have to know things beyond your engineering skills, like finance, compliance, and regulation. You need to think about these things whenever you write code or develop anything.
Akindele believes that anyone who wants to make the transition to becoming a Web3 developer should believe this is the future. “You have to convince yourself because no one is coming to convince you that ownership rights to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be important in the future.”
He further advised aspiring blockchain developers to learn how to leverage a popular blockchain like Ethereum, develop Ethereum decentralized applications (Dapps), and write Solidity code. “It is at this point that you will realize that you have new powers because you would be able to write smart contracts, deploy them on a public blockchain, and see people interact with your blockchain.”
Fix problems with Web3
Akindele left EMTECH to found a startup, BetDemanda decentralized finance (DeFi) sports betting platform where every player who loses their bets still gets their original stake.
The idea for BetDemand came to him while he was studying game theory to understand why and how people play games and the business models built around those games. He discovered that the economic incentives in the traditional sports betting model are harmful: a lot of people were losing money but couldn’t stop playing because they were already addicted to betting.
BetDemand eliminates the biggest problem people have with betting: losing their money. “Imagine telling a bettor that even if he loses, he will get his money back after a week. This is an irresistible offer,” Akindele said. Players can only bet on football for now, with naira – for as low as ₦50 – and cryptos.
BetDemand collects all money wagered by players into a single pool, introducing a one-week lock-in period, where players only receive their money after one week. During this lockup period, BetDemand converts this pool of funds into USDT, a stablecoin, which would then be deposited in the Venus protocol, a DeFi lending and borrowing platform. The pool of funds then gains 12% to 15% annual percentage return (APY).
“Everyone gets their money back at the end of the day, whether you win or lose, and the interest we get during the lockup period is shared with the winners.”
Akindele explained that they could have opted for other coins that would increase their yield by up to 30% but, for now, they are sticking to USDT as stablecoins are non-volatile. They make less profit, but it’s just enough to sustain the business.
During the last week of October, when BetDemand launched, its fund pool size was $450; now it’s gone to $26,000 a week.
BetDemand calculates winnings by multiplying the amount players bet by the total odds, a method not particularly different from the way traditional betting companies calculate winnings. The day of the week a bet is placed also affects winnings; this is called the “day factor”. The difference with BetDemand, however, is that the payouts are based on the interest the pool of funds earns during the week, so players cannot earn as much as they would with traditional betting. “But what we pay is enough to keep people coming back.”
Like Web3 gaming companies buzzing with play-to-win, BetDemand is forging its way as a DeFi gaming company. And, although it has yet to be announced, it has raised an angel round and is in the process of closing out a pre-seed round.
Akindele, speaking about what Web3 will do for Africa, said, “Web3 will be very important for Africa, because when the Internet was built in Silicon Valley, many Africans did not participate. But we have a chance to do it now. Whenever new technologies are built, a lot of wealth is created around that time, and the people involved in building those technologies, or those that exist at the time, benefit.
He advised developers hoping to start their blockchain engineering journey to join communities on Discord, connect with people, and ask questions, especially founders, to see why they make the decisions they do. He also advised them to contribute to open source blockchain projects and look for ways to solve the problems that exist today in Web2 with Web3.