Kenya-based BitPesa, a bitcoin-powered remittance service, has raised another $1.1 million in capital.
The round was led by Pantera Capital, whose CEO and founder, Dan Morehead, joined the company’s board of directors. Also contributing to the round were Crypto Currency Partners, Stephens Investment Management, Bitcoin Opportunity Corp. and Future/Perfect Ventures.
Since launching last year, the startup has raised a total of $1.7 million.
The funding will go toward growing its remittance services, which it hopes to introduce into neighboring countries like Tanzania and Kenya.
Bitcoin has become a popular medium for remittances to countries with large unbanked populations. Its decentralized ledger has often proved more economical as a means for transfer relative to traditional avenues for sending money like Western Union or MoneyGram. Such bitcoin-based services have much to gain if they can onboard any meaningful proportion of the estimated unbanked population of 2 billion in the world.
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Anyone with a cellphone capable of sending text messages can make use of the service.
The company also recently launched a bitcoin brokerage for Kenyan shillings to complement its remittance service.
BitPesa has been pleasantly surprised by its early successes, but has not yet reached its goal of capturing 1% of the local market.
BitPesa’s CEO and co-founder, Elizabeth Rossiello, said that it is easier for expats sending money to buy the bitcoins in some countries (e.g. Canada) more than others (e.g. U.K.). “It gives us a hint about where to move next,” she said.
For a detailed list of recent investment and M&A activity in the crypto industry, please visit the DC Magnates Crypto Deal Table.