Yellow Card, a Pan-African bitcoin exchange, announced yesterday that it raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by Valar Ventures, Third Prime, and Castle Island Ventures, reported Forbes. Jack Dorsey’s Square, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com Ventures also participated in the round, helping fund the exchange’s operations in 12 countries across the African continent. Third Prime got a seat on the company’s board.
“Many African countries adopted mobile phones without ever distributing landlines at scale, and many African countries adopted mobile payments without ever distributing credit and debit cards at scale,” said James Fitzgerald, a founding partner at Valar Ventures, per the report. “We see a similar opportunity for crypto; it can enable Africans to leapfrog an entire generation of financial services technology.”
Yellow Card started its operations in Africa after its co-founder Chris Maurice met a Nigerian man sending $200 to his mother at a Wells Fargo in Auburn, Alabama. The money transmitting service charged a $90 fee to send the $200 to the man’s family in Nigeria, according to the report. Maurice became interested in the country and its monetary system, ultimately meeting Yellow Card’s future chief bitcoin officer, Munachi Ogueke. The company went live in Nigeria in June 2019.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, visited African countries in 2019 to learn more about the region’s technological advancements. Upon leaving, he tweeted: “Sad to be leaving the continent…for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!).” Dorsey has been a bitcoin supporter for years and launched a bitcoin tipping integration on Twitter on September 23. The Yellow Card funding, the largest by a B2C cryptocurrency exchange in Africa, is another step Dorsey took to propel bitcoin adoption forward.
“Yellow Card is a very diverse product; in different countries, we have slightly different modus operandi,” Ogueke said. “But at the end of the day, the focus is still the same—we are bringing access to people that don’t have access to crypto and financial systems.”
The company told Forbes that their “ultimate goal is to become a crypto service that allows Africans to send remittances, make payments and protect the value of their wealth against the incessant currency devaluation in many African countries.” Although many platforms already plug into these use cases, Yellow Card seeks to differentiate itself by providing products and services that don’t require an understanding of bitcoin from users.
“The big picture is to change the way that money moves around the continent using crypto, and we want to make it easier for people to be able to just jump from their local economy into the economy of the internet and vice versa,” Maurice said.
According to the report, Yellow Card said they intend to use the $15 million received in the funding round to grow their team, launch new products, and expand operations to more African countries.