BitPesa, a prominent bitcoin payments startup that initially launched in Kenya in November 2013 before expanding its presence in countries in Africa and beyond, has announced a $2.5 million Series A round of funding.
The Series A round was led by noted US-based industry investor Draper VC, alongside participation from existing investors including the Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital Management, BnkToTheFuture, Zephyr Acorn and FuturePerfectVC. US venture capital firm Greycroft LLC joins as a new shareholder and investor.
BitPesa CEO Elizabeth Rosielleo revealed that the funds will be used to focus on customer acquisition and the company’s growth with a focus in Nigeria, BitPesa’s largest market. The company also sells bitcoin in Nigeria, alongside Kenya and Uganda.
The executive added:
We are well on our way to achieving our goal of becoming the largest licensed payment company in the UK, Europe and Africa that offers real-time settlement at wholesale FX rates to frontier and emerging markets, with best in class compliance and customer service.
The funding round also sees BitPesa’s Group Holdings move to Luxembourg. In Europe, the bitcoin payments company is licensed as an authorized payment institution in the UK by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
BitPesa enables African users to buy and sell local African currencies through bitcoin, with settlements directly transacting to and from bank and mobile money accounts in Africa. As a payments processor, BitPesa’s services facilitates quick and cheap payments between East, Central and West African countries without the need for dated, time-consuming bank wire transfers. On an international scale, BitPesa uses bitcoin to exchange African currencies with other global currencies, negating the need to use the US dollar as the benchmark currency during a foreign exchange.
The latest funding round follows a ‘strategic investment’ by bitcoin mining giant BitFury in the company in early 2016. In February 2015, BitPesa received $1 million in new funding, having ended its first of operations in late 2014 with over $.17 million in equity. Altogether, it is estimated that BitPesa has raised over $5 million in funding since late 2013.
Lead investor Tim Draper offers an explanation for the ongoing success of the standout African bitcoin company. He stated:
BitPesa is well positioned to dominate the huge market opportunity for digital payments across Africa and beyond. It takes a locally-based team to work in the evolving landscape of frontier market financial services, and BitPesa’s approach to investing in teams, infrastructure, and compliance from Lagos to London gives them a strong advantage.
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