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Weekly Roundup: Crypto Exchange FTX Announces Partnership with AZA Finance to Expand Web3 in Africa & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Kenyan-based fintech firm, AZA Finance’s partnership with FTX, a global crypto exchange, geared towards boosting WEB3 and crypto adoption in Africa, Luno launches Luno Expeditions, an early-stage investment arm, and more.

Crypto Exchange FTX Announces Partnership with AZA Finance to Expand Crypto and Web3 in Africa

Global digital currency exchange, FTX, has announced its partnership with Kenyan-based fintech company, AZA Finance, to expand crypto adoption and Web3 development in Africa.

The partnership will see the two companies work to connect the various African markets to the Web3 space by providing in-depth knowledge to African users as well as via the creation of the needed infrastructure. Both companies plan to create African currency and digital currency trading pairs. Additionally, FTX and AZA Finance will also work to make it easier for African users to deposit and withdraw money on FTX.com in African currencies.

Speaking of the partnership, CEO and Founder of AZA Finance, Elizabeth Rossiello, said, “We are thrilled to be working with FTX and to help them grow across the African continent.  Sam’s leadership, and his commitment to ethical expansion within Web3, is exceptional.  As we built Africa’s largest platform for trading African currencies, one thing has been clear – that this continent is the future of global, digital economies. After serving these booming enterprises for years, we know that the next generation of users, creators & builders for the Web3 economy is undoubtedly African.”

The collaboration will also see the two companies work to onboard African NFTs and artists to the FTX NFT marketplace.

Luno Announces the Launch of its Early-Stage Investment Arm, Luno Expeditions

LunoLuno, a cryptocurrency company, has announced the launch of Luno Expeditions, a global, early-stage investment arm that will support crypto/Web3 and fintech founders on their journey to building the next generation of financial services.

Having been in the market for the last seven years as a subsidiary of Digital Currency Gorup (DCG), Luno Expeditions is expected to spearhead all of DCG’s seed and pre-seed investing. The investment firm is expected to scale up investments globally as well as expand the focus beyond crypto into the bigger fintech space. Luno’s new investment arm will be led by Jocelyn Cheng, who is taking the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Speaking about her new role and the launch of the new arm, Cheng, said, “I am thrilled to join Luno Expeditions as Chief Executive. These are incredibly exciting times in cryptocurrency and the broader fintech ecosystem. We’ve got ambitious plans to build a leading fund designed around the needs of early stage founders. It will be a privilege to work with ambitious entrepreneurs from all over the world, all intent on solving problems and building the next generation of financial service companies.”

So far, while in stealth mode, Luno Expeditions has over the past couple of months been able to invest in more than 20 leading crypto and fintech companies globally, including a ground-breaking remittance in Tanzania, a crypto compliance solution in Israel, women dedicated bank in Pakistan, and an NFT marketplace in the United States.

South Africa’s Yoco Acquires Nona Digital

Yoco, an African payments and software company, has acquired Nona Digital, a leading fintech and web3 software development agency.

The news comes barely a year after Yoco raised $83 million in its Series C funding. The acquisition of Nona Digital will notably boost Yoco’s roadmap by adding a team of highly specialised fintech product and technology professionals to join its team.

Speaking on the acquisition, Mike Scott, CEO at Nona said, “We have spent the last 10 years building an exceptional team and capability in the Fintech and Web3 space. This acquisition allows us to direct everything that we have built towards a vision and mission that we believe in, and that matters. It is a natural evolution for a strong services business to move into product and we are very excited to now be part of the Yoco story.”

The acquisition will help Yoco continue to expand its footprint across Africa, Europe, and the Middle East as well as bring experienced and entrepreneurial talent from across the globe.

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Amber Group’s April Corporate News Recap 2022

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Team at IFGS London

Approved as a member of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang named on Makinsey’s annual Top Women Innovators list.

Annabelle Mackinsey

Product Development and Partnerships

Partnered with The Dodge NFT and PleasrDAO to make NFTs more accessible.

In the News

Disruption Banking: Amber Group joins International Swaps and Derivatives Association; among one of the few global crypto players in ISDA.

Yahoo Finance: First fractionalized NFT on tier 1 exchange.

U.Today: Amber Group, PleasrDAO ready to launch DOG fractionalized NFT on Huobi.

CoinGape: The Doge NFT, PleasrDAO and Amber Group partner Up to make NFTs more accessible.

Cointelegraph: Crypto seen as the ‘future of money’ in inflation-mired countries.

Mckinsey Website: The Committed Innovator: Women continuing to change the world.

YouTube: Can cryptos fit in your retirement portfolio? Here’s how – Amber Group’s Sophia Shluger.

Medium: Automated Market Makers (AMMs): Versioning up.

Events and Media Appearances

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang joined a panel discussion titled “Institutional Adoption of Cryptos – How fast and deep institutions are adopting the new asset class” by the FinTech Association Hong Kong.

Annabelle @ Fintech Association HK

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang joined Citigroup’s 9th Digital Money Symposium in a panel discussion on mainstreaming digital assets and building bridges between TradFi and DeFi.

Annabelle @ Citi Group Panel

CSO Dimitrios Kavvathas joined The Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute’s webinar series and delivered two keynote speeches on “A New (Crypto-Enabled) Financial System”. 

Attended IFGS 2022 in London;  Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined two panel discussions: one on digital wealth management and the other one on the infrastructure of responsible innovation.

Team at IFGS London

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined a panel discussion on “Unicorns In The Cryptosphere – How Blockchain Will Revolutionize The World” at the WILD3 Conference.

Sophia at WILD3

Sponsored the Paris Blockchain Week Summit 2022 and Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined two panel discussions on “Financial markets & Web3” and “The Rise of Decentralized Finance”. 

Sophia at Paris Blockchain Summit

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined Group Futurista’s Future of Treasury Management Virtual Summit and delivered a keynote speech on “Digital Wealth: The Evolution of Value”.

Sophia at FTM

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined a panel discussion titled “Investing in Digital Assets in an Institutional Context” hosted by Nordic Blockchain Association and Copenhagen Fintech Lab in Copenhagen.

Sophia-at-Nordic-Blockchain-Association

Sponsored and attended Bitcoin 2022 in Miami by Bitcoin Magazine.

team-at-Bitcoin-Miami

Sponsored the 2022 Future Commerce in Taipei and Taiwan Regional Director John Lee joined a keynote session on digital wealth and a panel discussion session on angel investment.

2022 Future Commerce Taipei

Taiwan Regional Director John Lee delivered a speech at Hackathon 3.0Solana Asia Series – Taiwan by EPOCHS.STUDIO.

Hackthon 3.0

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Weekly Roundup: Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin as an Official Currency & More

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Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about the Central African Republic following in the footsteps of El Salvador and adopting Bitcoin as an official currency, Afriex closing its Series A funding with a $10 million raise to expand its blockchain money transfer app, and more.

Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin as an Official Currency

Central African Republic has officially adopted Bitcoin as a legal currency. The news was announced on April 27, by the presidency. The Central African Republic has officially become the first country in the African continent to do so and the second in the world after El Salvador.

A statement signed by Chief of Staff of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, Obed Namsio, said that a bill governing the use of cryptocurrencies was unanimously adopted by parliament last week.

The president supports this bill because it will improve the conditions of Central African citizens,” said Namsio.

In his statement, Namsio went ahead to say that the move was “a decisive step toward opening up new opportunities for our country”.

The news comes at a time when various African governments have taken a varied approach to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology with countries like Nigeria launching their own CBDC and others like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Zambia are still exploring the same.

Nigerian Fintech Startup Afriex Secures $10 Million in Series A Funding For Its Blockchain Money Transfer Platform

AfriexNigerian blockchain-based money transfer startup, Afriex, has announced that it has raised $10 million in its Series A funding with a valuation of $60 million. Afriex is a multi-currency app that enables users to send and receive money from anywhere in the world.

The funding round was led by Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital and received participation from other investors such as Goldentree, Exceptional Capital, Stellar Foundation, among others.

Afriex processes over %5 million in monthly transfers and has grown its customer base by 500 percent within the last six months. The company makes money by arbitraging the currency and crypto exchange rates when customers transact.

Speaking in an interview, Tope Alabi, the Co-Founder and CEO of Afriex said, “Because we are building this network of connected financial institutions, we have built on-ramps for local Nigerian banks and on-ramps for local currency exchanges. We are building this Web3 mesh of financial institutions that could almost become something like the next Visa.”

The app that offers instant, zero-fee transfers for Africans at home and in the diaspora, plans to use the funds to expand its blockchain money transfer app.

Nigeria’s Fintech Startup Transfy Eyes Continental Growth Following a Successful First Year

Transfy, a Nigerian fintech startup, has announced that it’s planning for continental expansion following a strong early uptake of its payment infrastructure. The company has built a blockchain-powered financial services platform that makes it easy for business and individuals to seamlessly, securely, and freely send and receive money across Africa.

Having processed transactions worth $15 million in its first year of operations with zero marketing spend, the platform enables users to create an account, pass KYC, and start transacting.

Vincent Omulo, the startup’s Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, said, “Most of the money remittance companies concentrate on other corridors outside of Africa like origination of transactions from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Middle East among others. There are very few companies, which are committed to connecting Africa financially. We therefore came in to bridge this gap.”

The bootstrapped startup is currently raising a seed round and plans to use the funds to propel the company into further growth.

We are currently operational in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, and Botswana,” Omulo said. “We are rapidly expanding, and before the end of Q2, we will be present in 30 African countries.”

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Weekly Roundup: Luno Hits New Milestone with 10 Million Customers & More

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Luno Hits New Milestone

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about crypto exchange Luno hitting a new milestone having onboarded ten million customers, Yellow Card launching in Senegal to continue building the crypto ecosystem in the country, and more.

Luno Hits New Milestone with 10 Million Global Customers

Crypto exchange Luno has announced that it has hit a new milestone with 10 million global customers. One million customers were onboarded in just six months.

South Africa remains Luno’s most active and strongest market with the exchange recording a 40% year-on-year customer growth. In fact, more than 40% of the one million customers onboarded over the last six months reside in South Africa. Additionally, South Africans roughly deposit R480 when they open a Luno account and tend to hold it for about ten months.

82% of the new customers who purchased crypto bought Bitcoin while Ethereum was purchased by the remaining 28%. The exchange allows users to purchase crypto for as little as R1 which is in line with its mission of putting the power of crypto in everyone’s hand.

There are an estimated 300 million people using crypto worldwide as of March 2022 – a figure that is expected to grow as global markets gain better access to the crypto ecosystem. Luno aims to bring crypto to over one billion people by 2030, so reaching 10 million customers is an important milestone which supports a transition towards building a better, more fair financial system,” said Marcus Swanepoel, CEO and co-founder of Luno.

Luno’s milestone announcement comes nearly a month after it launched Luno Expeditions – its global early-stage investment arm founded to support crypto/Web3 and fintech founders.

Marius Reitz, Luno’s GM for Africa said that it took Luno five years to build a base of its first one million customers in 2017. “Luno’s growth has accelerated significantly since then. Our top two regions – South Africa and Nigeria – illustrate the high demand for crypto in emerging markets,” he said.

Yellow Card Financial Launches in Senegal to Advance the Crypto Ecosystem

Yellow CardYellow Card has announced its launch in Senegal to help advance the crypto ecosystem. The Senegal launch now brings the total number of countries the company is operating in to 16 across the African continent.

Since its launch in Nigeria in 2018, the company has been working to make it easy for anyone, anywhere in Africa to purchase crypto using cash, card, bank transfer, and mobile money.

The Senegal launch means that users will be able to purchase crypto using Senegal’s local currency (XOF Cfa).

Speaking about the launch, Yellow Card’s Country Manager in Senegal, Ines Lowe SALL, noted that the country’s market is ready for success despite it being new to crypto. She said, “The opportunities here are vast as there is a good community of local traders and crypto enthusiasts willing to trade. In addition, the market is still easy to access with few crypto companies in operation. For us, it’s about providing the best crypto exchange platform to the population and making financial inclusion for all a reality.”

Ines went on to say that the company was ready to work with the different regulators and actors in the crypto space in the decision-making processes so as to create guidelines to aid in the regulation of crypto activities in Senegal.

Cardano Launches Africa Blockchain Incubator Program to Support New Businesses

Input-Output Global, the company that oversees Cardano, has announced the launch of an incubator scheme in Africa that is meant to support new business ventures in the continent.

Dubbed Ariob, the scheme was launched in partnership with iceaddis, a pan-African business incubator developed to promote the growth of businesses that are funded by Cardano’s innovation engine Project Catalyst. Under the collaboration, Ariob will give high potential startups access to unlimited resources and venture-building expertise that will permit the select business owners to develop useful products that can solve real-life challenges in different parts of the world but with more focus on the African continent.

“Together, we want to demonstrate that the next big ideas are emerging from African countries, and we are ready to invest our resources to make that happen,” said Markos Lemma, Co-founder and Chief Executive at iceaddis.

DirectED, Hippocrades, Thrift Finance, and WADA, are some of the projects that will be joining Ariob.

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