Irrespective of government aversion and policies enforced to nip the growth and expansion of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in the bud, they continue to thrive. African countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya continue to see adoption rates grow meteorically amid government unfavorable policies and aversion. Africa also continues to produce and house notable crypto-focused startups that continue to rake in millions of dollars in support from investors.
Bitmama, a Nigerian blockchain payment startup has raised pre-seed funding of $2 million. The latest funding of $1.65 million is an extension of an initial $350,000 pre-seed round that took place in October last year. The extension round was led by Africa-focused venture capital firms Unicorn Growth Capital and Launch Africa. Other investors that participated in the round include Adaverse, Flori Ventures, Tekedia Capital, GreenHouse Capital, ODBA, Five35 Ventures, Chrysalis Capital, Enrich Africa, Thrive Africa, Angellist Ventures, and angel investors, Rene Reinsberg, Marek Olszewski, and Honey Ogundeyi.
Founded in 2019 by Ruth Iselema, the US and Nigeria-based Africa-focused blockchain payments startup want to bring democracy to the continent’s fragmented payment system by leveraging the abundance of blockchain-based solutions. Bitmama runs a distributed remote team across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, and started initially as a WhatsApp group that provided members with knowledge about cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin which once held so much buzz. The platform was also used to make transactions amongst members and people looking to transact using cryptocurrencies. It eventually became an exchange platform that allowed users to formally and securely access virtual assets, buy sell and swap them with ease.
“We started Bitmama to make it easy for anyone across the African continent to buy and sell cryptocurrency. But as time passed, we saw a couple of use cases we could employ this technology to solve. Many people wanted to make transactions asides from buying and selling crypto, so we built stuff that could also let them buy local and international airtime and data. Then, due to local bank card limitations of $20 monthly spend, we provided virtual dollar cards for Nigerians to make international purchases,” CEO Ruth Iselema said.
Changera, a recent offering by the startup allows users to facilitate remittances and international payments on Netflix and Amazon via virtual cards using stablecoins. The company refers to Changera as a social payment solution. Bitmama says that its stablecoins-funded crypto debit cards provide up to $10,000 in monthly spending limits and can be used seamlessly in any part of the world. The company’s CEO explained that Changera was developed and targeted at people who wanted to spend with crypto but didn’t want all of the crypto esotericism that the average crypto platform is characterized by.
Bitmama has over 70,000 users across its Bitmama and Changera platforms. Earlier this year, it had less than 20,000 users. Both products have helped to bring more people onto the platform with minimal marketing. Revenue is derived from users’ transactions.
Speaking on Bitmama’s strong points, the company’s CEO said that “One thing which is the backbone of Bitmama is that we are very innovative. Since we came into the ecosystem, we’ve been doing many things where we’ve been the first. For instance, we were the first to launch QR codes for offline onboarding. Even when we launched the crypto cards, we were the first to do that. And we have a couple of innovative products we’re bringing out that will be the first in the market, and we want to keep that momentum.”
Bitmama is currently working on a B2B play that will assist businesses across several industries to offer crypto-based services via APIs to their users. This product is already in beta with some of its clients.
Commenting on the round, Launch Africa’s managing general partner Zachariah George said that he sees his company’s partnership with Bitmama as a way to conveniently and universally trade and manage cryptocurrencies. “This is something that we specifically value in our fund and what Bitmama in particular delivers,” he said.
Bitmama plans to use the newly-acquired pre-seed funding to expand its operations in new markets, strengthen its team and product offerings, and deepen penetration in its existing market.