Gems, the social messaging app with a built-in Bitcoin wallet, announced today that it has raised $400,000 from venture capitalist Magma Venture Partners. Gems is a new social messenger service that includes Bitcoin wallet and rewards its users for the use of the messaging service, thanks to its own altcoin named GEMZ. Users can then transfer these GEMZ to other messaging users or withdraw them.
MagmaVC, who previously invested in the famous Israeli startup Waze that has been purchased by Google since, described to CCN.com the motivations behind this strategic investment:
“The combination of social messaging and the transfer of value is something we strongly believe in. Gems is in a unique position to introduce Bitcoin Wallet and other new crypto-currencies to the wider consumer base. We’re very excited to be part of the journey and look forward to what’s next.”
While the project has already raised 2,250 BTC (approx. $600,000 US) through a crowdfunding campaign started on November 21th, this additional funding will allow the company to “scale faster which is necessary since the mainstream instant messaging market is very competitive,” stressed Gems CEO Daniel Peled. Indeed, the startup already released an Android App for Gems, and is currently building up the iOS version, which should be done “later this year” according to internal sources.
The rising number of Israeli bitcoin startups is a testament to the fact that Israel is one of the places to be for bitcoin entrepreneurship. The renowned altcoin Mastercoin (now OMNI) is probably one of the most successful Israel-based startups, with a market cap over $1,000,000 and considerable public exposure. Nevertheless, this trend is nothing but surprising: Israeli companies are pioneers in hi-tech fields like cryptography, fraud prevention, and semiconductors, all of which deeply interact with the Bitcoin universe.
“That makes the country as much of a Bitcoin hotspot as Singapore or California’s Silicon Valley “said Eli Novershtern, principal of Israel’s biggest venture capital firm Pitango, which manages assets worth over $1.6 billion.
Aleph, another VC firm that currently manages $150M, announced in mid-2014 that it would be providing $50,000 bounties to entrepreneurs or teams of entrepreneurs that will help grow the adoption of Bitcoins. All these efforts are bearing fruit in a concrete and perceptible manner: Israel is currently the leading place in the whole middle east in terms of bitcoin merchant acceptance, as evidenced by Coinmap.
Images from Coinmap and Shutterstock.