Bitmama, has raised a pre-seed extension of $1.65 million, adding to the $350,000 it received last October, thus, closing the round at $2 million.
Africa-focused venture capital firms Unicorn Growth Capital and Launch Africa led the investment in Bitmama. Others include existing and new investors such as Adaverse, Flori Ventures, Tekedia Capital, GreenHouse Capital, ODBA, Five35 Ventures, Chrysalis Capital, Enrich Africa, Thrive Africa, Angellist Ventures, and angel investors, including Rene Reinsberg, Marek Olszewski and Honey Ogundeyi.
Bitmama, the U.S.- and Nigeria-based company, which has built a distributed remote team across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya plans on democratizing Africa’s highly fragmented payment system by leveraging blockchain-based solutions. Chief executive officer Ruth Iselema founded the Africa-focused blockchain payments startup in 2019. Adam Umar is the company’s CTO, while Akinbola Asalu is the COO.
According to the executives, Bitmama started as a WhatsApp group where members learned about crypto, particularly bitcoin, and made transactions. Subsequently, they built a crypto exchange platform and allowed these users to access virtual assets formally and explore other use cases, including buying, selling and swapping crypto and peer-to-peer transactions. More recently, the company introduced Changera, a social payment solution allowing customers to use stablecoins to facilitate remittances and international payments on Netflix and Amazon via virtual cards.
Earlier this year, Bitmama had fewer than 20,000 users across both platforms. That number has grown to more than 70,000, noted Iselema, adding that both products, Bitmama exchange, and Changera, have seen massive uptake with minimal marketing. Revenues come from margins on the transactions its users perform on the platform.
Currently, Bitmama is working on a B2B play where via APIs, it’ll assists businesses in various industries that want to offer crypto-based services to their users without building from scratch. The blockchain company will use the pre-seed to expand its operational presence, strengthen its team, consolidate its product offerings, and plot market penetration across Africa while rapidly scaling new use cases for cryptocurrency within the continent, it said in a statement.
According to TechCrunch, Africa is the world’s third fastest-growing crypto market, with crypto adoption increasing by more than 1,200% over the last two years. Countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are majorly responsible for skyrocketing adoption rates as citizens try to hedge against currency devaluation and build wealth. These countries house most of the continent’s crypto and blockchain startups.
African blockchain startups raised $91 million in the first quarter of 2022 alone compared to $127 million they received from investors throughout 2021. While new upstarts in the web3 space such as MARA, Nestcoin and Jambo have grabbed the headlines with new but unproven business models, collectively, exchanges and remittance platforms remain the most backed in the space