DeFi Comes to the Travel World: Maps.Me Raises $50M for DeFi Integration

'Maps.me 2.0' will offer DeFi-based financial services that provide "an easier way to invest, pay, and travel."

Offline digital map application Maps.me has completed a $50 million seed funding round that was held to fund the integration of decentralized finance (DeFi) services onto its platform. Once the integration is complete, Maps.me’s DeFi services will be available to the platform’s 140 million users, 60 million of whom were active last year.

The funding round was led by Sam Bankman-Fried of Alameda Research, a man who is perhaps best known for leading SushiSwap’s transition to community ownership in September of last year. The round also included other big names in the crypto world, such as Genesis Capital and CMS Holdings.

Maps.me’s move toward the DeFi world follows Daegu Limited’s $20 million acquisition of the app on November 2nd, 2020. Daegu Limited is a member of the Parity.com Group.

In a statement to Cointelegraph, Maps.me Co-founder, Alex Grebnev said that Parity acquired Maps.me with the objective of building “an ecosystem that integrated DeFi tools with a platform that had a large user base.”

Maps.me Will Offer Travel Guides, Hotel Booking, and an Interest-Bearing Cryptocurrency Wallet That Will Offer Annual Interest Rates of up to 8%

The DeFi-enabled ‘Maps.me 2.0’ will offer its users a number of services. In addition to the map services that the app has been providing for eight years, the platform will include travel guides and hotel booking. Additionally, the app will offer an interest-bearing cryptocurrency wallet that will offer annual interest rates of up to 8%.

Grebnev explained that “our long-term vision is to create an embedded platform that combines a broad range of financial services that provide an easier way to invest, pay and travel. We see the ability to bundle things like foreign exchange, investing, credit card and peer-to-peer payment services — with low fees, no hidden costs, and strong loyalty incentives.”

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In the short-term, users of the wallet will be able to “generate yield on their savings by directly lending it out securely to borrowers.” This interest-bearing account and lending model has become increasingly popular in the DeFi world through platforms like Celsius, BlockFi and Crypto.com.

“We also plan to give our users the ability to trade a wide range of assets that are not limited by geographical boundaries or transaction size,” Grebnev said.

The First ‘Mainstream App’ to Enter the DeFi World?

With the completion of the funding round, Maps.me is branding itself as the first ‘mainstream app’ to embrace DeFi.

“The industry is waiting for a catalyst for the mass adoption of DeFi tools,” Grebnev said. “We’re excited to make this a reality by leveraging our active user base as a means to bootstrap a retail community for a new innovative DeFi platform on Maps.me.”

Sam Bankman-Fried added that “By embedding and democratizing access to yield-earning finance to millions of users via an everyday app, Maps.me has the potential to really propel DeFi mainstream adoption and bring a groundbreaking technology to the masses.”

Maps.me was launched in 2012 under the name ‘MapsWithMe’. It was acquired by Mail.ru for roughly $14 million in 2014.

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