September 8, 2021 • ISSUE 588

Mathias Abdissa

Merging Traditional Finance with Cryptocurrency

MIU alumnus Mathias Abdissa is the creator of a new online financial platform called Santym, which allows people in Africa to open an FDIC-insured US bank account and participate in the global economy they previously couldn’t access.

Mathias came to MIU in 2011 from Ethiopia to study in the MS in Computer Science Program. After graduating, he worked as a software engineer for various companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Over the years, he has helped his friends in Africa pay their bills online. Many of them don’t have access to traditional financial services, such as bank wires and debit cards, and can’t even purchase digital services like Netflix. Nine months ago he decided to solve the problem by creating a startup company.

Mathias has also incorporated cryptocurrencies in his services, which add more flexibility for users to withdraw money where there is no traditional currency exchange.

At his MIU graduation ceremony with commencement speaker Jim Carrey

When he first heard about cryptocurrencies, he was skeptical. But in 2016 he began studying them, along with blockchain technologies, and became a believer. He has also worked in the field of cryptocurrencies for the last four years.

Mathias considers cryptocurrency not only an investment vehicle, but a new system of finance that connects consumers directly with producers, artists, and service providers.

He has built a community of 700 Ethiopian crypto enthusiasts and has been a passionate advocate of blockchain technologies. “I like the transparency and the community aspect of cryptocurrencies,” he said. “I see a change from institution-based finance to community-based finance and it will open up opportunities for a lot of younger people.”

Mathias has been working on his project full-time and uses the Transcendental Meditation® technique to stay balanced. “Practicing TM helps me calm down,” he said. “When you work 80-100 hours a week, you need a break from the endlessly overactive mind.”

Mathias is now working on his marketing strategy and will be launching Santym within the next 30 days.