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BitPesa Secures More Funding But Is Forced To Reduce Kenyan Service

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BitPesa Secures Funding

Nairobi-based bitcoin startup Bitpesa has secured follow up funding to its Series A round earlier this year. This new round of funding is led by venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, which has experience investing in tech startups such as Braintree and Venmo, provides BitPesa with a further cash injection.

Investors Attracted By Positive Growth

The new round of financing comes at a time the firm is experiencing steady growth in African markets. Bitpesa is currently handling monthly trade volumes of $10 million, up from $1 million in 2016, with a 25% increase every month for the last two years. The company’s model which uses the bitcoin blockchain to provide low-cost B2B payment processing for local and international markets led to its being named the best fintech solution in Africa at the AppsAfrica Awards 2016.

Bitpesa CEO, Elizabeth Rossiello commented in AppsAfrica: “We keep raising because we have grown above and beyond projections […] We have expanded across Africa and Europe, added a stellar roster of Fortune 100 companies as clients and are receiving growing support from regulators.”

BitPesa received an additional new investor Plug and Play, with existing shareholders also fronting extra capital. Investors from previous funding rounds include Draper Associates, Pantera Capital, Blockchain Capital and Digital Currency Group.

According to Greycroft founder Alan Patricof in a Disrupt Africa interview, the investment firm believes bitcoin has potential when it comes to remittances and payments in emerging markets, an area where BitPesa is well positioned.

Plug and Play vice president, Scott Robinson also added: “BitPesa promises to revolutionise the exchange and payment markets in Africa, disrupting monopoly incumbents and opening the fastest growing economies in the world to foreign companies. We’re very excited for the team’s vision and current execution which bolsters payment avenues throughout the region.”

BitPesa has now doubled its team to around 40 employees since last year and is exploring cross-border payments as a significant growth area for the future, particularly for its African clients.

Strategic Partnerships

BitPesa aims to transform the financial landscape in Africa through its peer-to-peer payment network and bitcoin exchange. One way is through identifying cutting edge partners who can assist the company in rolling out other B2B products such as trade financing and lending. Already, BitPesa is actively seeking banks and MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) in each region to partner with.

While many have been reluctant to work with bitcoin startups in the past, with the company becoming FCA approved in the UK and Japan allowing the use of bitcoin as a transactional currency, hopefully, local banks and MNOs will be more open to integrating bitcoin technology in their operations. The company is also proactively engaging with regulators in African markets that have banned

The company is also proactively engaging with regulators in African markets that have banned bitcoin like Kenya and Nigeria, to find a way to service SME’s and individual clients.

Effect of the Price Rally

The price of bitcoin has surged to all-time highs since the start of the year, coming amidst the August 1 Segwit infrastructure upgrade that resulted in a currency split, and formation of bitcoin cash. With another potential technical upgrade coming for bitcoin in November, Rossiello insists bitcoin will still be used on the platform due to it being more liquid than other digital currencies.

“The speed of bitcoin payments has increased and this move ensures that technology can continue to have an “industrial use,” underscoring how strongly people believe in it. We’re experiencing an exciting moment for the firm and for the industry.”

The company is also expanding its presence in Francophone Africa with an office in Senegal, and in Europe, due to the increased money transfer volumes between this markets. The additional capital together with the wealth of experience the investors bring to the company will be instrumental in making it a market leader in Africa’s payments space.

Retracing in Kenya Due to a Difficult Regulatory Environment

Despite the good news of high growth figures and increasing funding for what is widely considered Africa’s leading bitcoin startup, the company announced on September 1 that it is making changes to the services it offers to its Kenyan customers.

Citing the difficult regulatory environment in Kenya that prohibits bitcoin-related startups from opening or maintaining business bank accounts with local banks, which is hindering the firm from process payments in Kenyan Shillings, BitPesa has decided that the verification of new customers in Kenya will be paused and that the new minimum limit for transactions in Kenya will be $25,000.

This means that buying bitcoin in Kenya using BitPesa will unfortunately only be available for businesses and high net worth individuals who are already existing BitPesa customers.

Regardless of the difficulties in the startup’s “home country”, BitPesa is a great example of a resilient African bitcoin startup that is able to navigate the complexities of dealing in digital currency in different jurisdictions around the globe.

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Binance Launches Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Uganda

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Binance Launches in Uganda

Global bitcoin exchange Binance has launched a new fiat-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The exchange will also be offering a reward of 0.5 BNB to the first 20,000 users that register on the site as part of its promotion in Uganda.

The announcement comes nearly two months after Binance partnered with Crypto Savannah, Made in Africa initiative, and Msingi East Africa to promote economic development in the East African country.

Changpeng Zhao and Yi He founded Binance in 2017 and raised $15 million through an initial coin offering for its ERC20 token BNB in July of the same year.

The exchange plans to move its offices to the island nation of Malta after the implementation of stricter regulations in China and Japan. In January 2018, Binance was the largest crypto exchange with a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

Binance in Uganda

BinanceBinance will also offer its Ugandan users a month of zero trading fees when trading goes online. The exchange will announce the opening for trading at a later date.

Users can find out if they have won any rewards by logging into their accounts and accessing ‘Distribution History’ in the Account Center. In addition, users will be required to complete ID verification to be able to withdraw funds from Binance.

Ugandan users will enjoy an exchange that offers fast transactions of up to 1.4 million per second and state-of-the-art storage technology for utmost security. The exchange also provides 24/7 customer support and has a user-friendly interface.

The presence of Binance in Uganda aims to boost financial inclusion in the country, which has increased from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013 according to its national financial inclusion strategy 2017-2022.

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LINE Corp to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange BITBOX in July for Global Trading

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BitBox
Image by linecorp.com

The developers of popular messaging app LINE and LINE Group’s cryptocurrency and blockchain company LVC Corporation have announced that they are set to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange called BITBOX in July 2018. The Japan-based firm made the announcement during the LINE Conference 2018 held in Tokyo.

The New BITBOX Exchange

BITBOXBITBOX will offer over 30 high-demand cryptocurrencies to users globally with the exception of Japan and the US. The exchange will trade coins such as bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash while charging low trading fees of 0.1 percent. BITBOX will support 15 languages, according to the company press release.

The selected cryptocurrencies for the exchange have undergone an extensive screening exercise and have been picked by an internal committee, promising users a convenient and safe trading experience. LINE will also incorporate its top security standards to the cryptocurrency exchange.

LINE Corporation CEO Takeshi Idezawa said:

“As a key part of LINE’s new financial services, BITBOX shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options. With BITBOX, LINE users will be able to access cryptocurrencies more easily, while also being assured of state-of-art security measures to protect their assets.”

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Nigerians Have Invested Over $5m in Cryptocurrencies Despite Regulator Warnings Says KureCoin Hub

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Nigerians Invest in Cryptocurrencies

Nigerians have invested over five million US dollars in the cryptocurrency market in the last couple of years according to data from Nigerian cryptocurrency platform KureCoin Hub.

The data shows that Nigerian retail investors are investing heavily in the cryptocurrency market despite warnings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) against investing in an unregulated market.

KureCoin Hub’s co-founder and CEO Tega Abikure has criticised the stance regulators have taken and argues that the country will lag behind as other countries enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Abikure told New Telegraph:

“It is not a matter of whether the government likes it; it is about whether they need it. I am not sure the internet was liked when it first came. […] It is not a matter of whether they are going to embrace it; it is about when they are going to do so.”

Abikure observed that other countries such as Uganda and South Africa have already taken steps towards adopting blockchain technology while Kenya is pushing forward with a functioning blockchain taskforce.

“Nigeria is being left behind,” he noted.

The Blockchain as a Source of Foreign Direct Investments

Abikure also believes that blockchain technology could be a major source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the next five to ten years. In addition, he is of the opinion that a lot of money is being made in cryptocurrencies on the continent with most of it leaving Africa’s economy.

On one of the benefits of blockchain technology, he said: “[The blockchain] is completely transparent and cannot be changed; it can be used to create a decentralised system of payment where the taxpayer had an unhindered access to the collector which is the government. It enhances revenue collection and removes the challenges of remittances.”

Blockchain technology can also improve the banking sector, the electoral process, the use of donations in charitable projects, and the supply chain, among many other use cases.

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