Open-source payments network and Libra rival Celo has announced 18 finalists spanning 15 countries from its CeloCamp blockchain accelerator program hosted in partnership with digital events company Upright.

The program, launched during mid-February, comprises an eight-week virtual boot-camp intended to stimulate app-building on top of the Celo blockchain prior to its launch.

The teams are competing for $21,000 in prizes — with the winner receiving $10,000, the runner-up getting $5,000, and three teams chosen by public voting set to receive $2,000 each.

The camp will provide the teams with mentorship from PayPal, Winklevoss Capital, a16z, and Polychain, with the program running from April 20 until June 15.

CeloCamp produces 18 finalists from 15 countries

"We are thrilled by the quality and diversity of Celo Camp applicants,” Upright co-founder Alon Shavit told Cointelegraph. “With over 60 countries represented, it shows the truly global nature and appeal of the Celo platform to communities around the world.”

Five finalists represent Europe, including Germany’s Tangany, Belgium’s d-event, Portugal’s impactMarket, Estonia’s Parsiq, and Ukraine’s Good Event.

Across the Americas, Columbia’s TRUSTartup, Brazil’s Lovecrypto, Chile’s SharpShark, Mexico’s Air Protocol, U.S.-based Conclave, and Canada’s Figment Networks and Dunia Payment are among the top 18 projects. 

The finalists include strong representation from Africa, with Kesholabs, Kotani Pay, and Ubricoin from Kenya, and Crosspoint and iwise from Nigeria making the list.

Five African development teams among CeloCamp finalists

“With our mobile based approach in Africa we want to bring prosperity to all, just like Celo,“ Serge Kiema, co-founder and CEO Sub-Saharan wallet app Dunia Pay, told Cointelegraph. 

“We’ll be actively deploying smart contracts on the Celo blockchain during the camp, which will lay the groundwork for a lightweight and secure wallet that we’re planning to deploy in 14 African countries," he added.

Shawn Yu, co-founder and CEO of China-based MugglePay, the sole finalists from Asia, told Cointelegraph that they are building a peer-to-peer payment solution for merchants to support Celo.

“We're choosing to build on Celo because we share the same mission,” Yu said, adding, “Celo has a strong community, and we believe that building on Celo will allow cryptocurrencies to serve billions of the unbanked.”

Celo community and developers voted for finalists

In total, CeloCamp received applications from 251 teams spanning more than 60 countries worldwide. The majority of applicants reside in the United States with 40 teams, India with 17, Nigeria and the United Kingdom with 12 each, and Singapore with nine.

To narrow the pack down to 74, applicants were assessed according to five criteria — project idea, technical strength, project alignment with Celo’s mission, traction and commitment. 

The 18 finalists were chosen through a voting system where 50% of votes came from the Celo community and CeloCamp mentors — with each mentor commanding five times the votes of an individual community member, and 50% of votes coming from a committee comprising CeloCamp and CLabs representatives.

Celo fosters development prior to launch

CeloCamp is one of several accelerator programs launched by the Celo Foundation in recent months — with the organization seeking to foster the development of an open financial system accessible by mobile phone prior to the network’s launch.

A Celo spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the platform hopes to see projects building “financial apps, programmable payments apps, and payment infrastructure” on top of its network. 

At the end of March, Celo announced it had awarded $700,000 to 13 different startups building on the Celo network as part of a program that will accept proposals until May 19. CLabs plans to issue 15.7 million cGLD in grant funding by 2021.