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Odisea 04: Building the impact-led crypto ecosystem with Marek Olszweski

Hey there dear friends, welcome to yet another episode of the Odisea podcast! On this episode, we have Marek Olswezwski, the Co-Founder of Celo and Valora. On this episode we discus Marek’s founder journey, how he got into crypto, where Celo and Valora are distinguishing themselves in the blockchain ecosystem, the impact they are having on people’s lives in the global south, and where both of these projects are headed.

Also available on: Spotify | Apple | Google | Simple Cast

On the last podcast series we produced, Last Mile DeFi, we had Jackie Bona the Co-Founder and CEO of Valora, Jori and Gabriela from EthicHub, Mila Rioja the LatAm Lead for Celo and James Downer a builder across the Celo ecosystem. Given the podcast was centered around driving more financial inclusion throughout Latin America, Celo’s feature throughout the last podcast was a very natural one.

When Celo’s founding team came together to explore what a global payments network enabled by blockchain would look like, it was immediately clear that the currently existing blockchains wouldn’t suffice to unlock the utility required to materialize the project. Therefore, the team took to work on developing a blockchain that would have the necessary technical infrastructure required to develop a “global Venmo.”

With that, on Earth Day 2020, Celo’s first block was validated. Shortly thereafter, Celo also became the first carbon-negative blockchain in the space. Fast forward a few years and Celo his a low-cost blockchain, where you can pay your gas fees with a number of tokens, and transactions are extremely cheap and fast. Celo is focusing on bringing a mobile-first experience to its users through its ultra-light client, opening u accessibility to the billions of people around the world who connect to the internet through a mobile phone.

Today, the ecosystem is thriving - with builders focusing on delivering UBI, bringing DeFi to the masses, backing digital assets with natural capital, issuing local currency stablecoins, among a number of other exciting pro-social and environmental projects. As someone who believes deeply in blockchain’s potential to deliver on fairer and more equitable systems of human flourishing, Celo is the prominent ecosystem that is delivering on this specific promise.

The Celo and Valora team takes a pragmatic approach with regards to how they see the challenges with regards to mass adoption of crypto. One of the notable roadblocks is the fragmentation and friction involved with on and off-ramping crypto. To address this, they’ve launched FiatConnect, an open on/off-ramp API standard, which makes it practical and easy for dApps and wallets to seamlessly allow people to move in and out of crypto. In this conversation, we discuss how FiatConnect is working towards bringing this universal standard forward to facilitate on/off-ramps.

Remember, you’ve still got time to mint your Odisea Community Collectible below. The collectible is available on the Optimism network, which we have intentionally chosen thanks to their commitment to support public goods, largely through their Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RetroPGF) mechanism, which allocates the fees paid by users of the network and then distributes them retroactively to public goods in the ecosystem. Mint yours below and support public goods :)

If you’d like to connect to discuss the episode and explore ways we can collaborate to build a better future leveraging crypto, let’s chat on Twitter or you can join the Telegram community as well!


Odisea is produced with the support of Safe and Ambire Wallet.

Safe (previously Gnosis Safe) is a decentralized custody protocol, securing ~$60 Billion in assets today. It is establishing a universal standard for secure custody of digital assets, data, and identity.

Ambire Wallet is an account abstraction-based, self-custodial gateway to Web3 that introduces a range of impressive features like transaction batching, a pre-payment mechanism, and the ability to pay gas fees in stablecoins. By being accessible on both mobile and desktop devices, with a browser extension version on the horizon, Ambire Wallet aims at streamlining the user experience and ensure convenience across different platforms.

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