The bitcoin price, up more than 60% so far this year, has surged over the last month, jumping over the psychological $10,000 level and climbing to highs not seen since June last year.
Now, Nigeria-based bitcoin-buying service Yellow Card, backed by major cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has announced a $1.5 million seed funding round that includes heavyweights Polychain, Andreessen Horowitz, and Celo—with its chief executive declaring “crypto will go mainstream in Africa long before any other part of the world.”
“We’ve been breaking our own records over and over,” Yellow Card co-founder and CEO Chris Maurice said via email, adding the company is adding around 20,000 users a month alongside monthly volumes of $20 million.
“We’re growing extremely quickly. Additionally, we’re seeing a lot of young people take to crypto trading as a way to support themselves and their families.”
Yellow Card, after expanding into South Africa and Botswana in June, has this week closed a seed funding round that raised $1.5 million to fuel expansion in Africa and “become the dominant exchange across the continent,” the company said in a statement.
“There’s no better place for bitcoin to thrive than Africa,” Maurice said, pointing to the “practical” use of bitcoin for “payments and savings” as “why crypto will go mainstream in Africa long before the West or any other part of the world.”
“Anyone with a smartphone and place to vendor can act as an on-ramp and off-ramp from fiat to crypto,” Maurice said, explaining Yellow Card is bringing the “regionally popular ‘agency banking'”—a type of branchless banking—”to the world of crypto.”
Earlier this year, a report by Arcane Research found that “Africa is one of, if not the most, promising regions for the adoption of cryptocurrencies,” with bitcoin and crypto ownership rates in South Africa and Nigeria at 13% and 7%, respectively—far higher than the worldwide average of 7%.
Maurice, who founded Yellow Card along with Justin Poiroux in 2016 after selling bitcoin for cash in Taco Bells along the U.S. east coast, wants to “bringing cryptocurrency to the people who need it most” and last year met with Twitter’s
Dorsey, the chief executive of both payments company Square
“Jack is a great guy and he really understands our vision and has a similar vision for the continent,” Maurice said.
“We just need to get him back to Lagos for a few months.”