VALR, a South Africa trading platform held a $1.5 million seed-funding round led by Bittrex, a global cryptocurrency exchange.
While commentating on the funding series to CoinDesk, Farzam Ehsani, the co-founder and CEO of VALR stated its company’s partnership with Bittrex would offer liquidity and competitive prices for crypto-to-crypto trading. With the funding in place, Ehsani revealed that his team would work on activating fiat in-ramps with local banks by the start of summer. He stated:
“Companies are not allowed to buy [large amounts of] crypto from offshore markets. This makes it very hard for crypto exchanges in South Africa to access funding from international markets. South Africans want to have a store of value that doesn’t depreciate the way the rand has.”
Ehsani explained that so far, 1500 users have signed up on the exchange’s waiting list. He added that some users started activating their accounts in a closed beta stage. Investors are also excited with the platform. Customers will be able to access these services on March 1 when the platform finally launches.
Michael Jordaan, an investor for the VALR platform explained that their trading platform has the power to change the cryptocurrency landscape in South Africa. He added that since VALR supports 50 cryptocurrencies, people in South Africa would be able to get a diverse range of assets.
While speaking on the matter, Bill Shihara, the CEO at Bittrex said that the South African market shows “tremendous untapped potential.”
South Africa has been leading when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption in Africa. Marius Reitz, South Africa manager at Luna, a crypto exchange and wallet in Africa, stated that its user base grew to over 2 million in early 2019 most of who came from South Africa.
Reitz added that a recent study showed that about 167 people out of 1,000 residents use crypto to make payments. She explained, “Specifically in South Africa, we have seen situations where many people move from other countries in Africa to search for jobs, and they send money back home.”
As for VALR, Ehsani hopes to use the platform in reaching markets beyond South Africa. He noted, “Because several of the countries around us peg their currencies to the rand, if we do well, we can influence other countries in the region and Africa as a whole.”
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