Africa on a crypto lineup, Akwaaba Plentywaka! Another African unicorn

by | Aug 24, 2021

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Good day,

Joy and Ogheneruemu here

After taking a deserved short break — events, especially successful ones, can lead to fatigue, you know — we are back. 

Show of hands, who received our email about the newsletter survey on Monday? If you haven’t filled it out, no worries, here’s the link. On to today’s menu. 

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Today, we’re discussing:

  • Global cryptocurrency adoption rate
  • Plentywaka’s seed raise
  • OPay’s spanking new unicorn status

How accurate is Finder’s report that 15% of South African adults own cryptocurrency?

cryptocurrency
Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/worldspectrum-7691421/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3085139″>WorldSpectrum</a> from <a

In 2020, Chainalysis — a virtual platform that analyses Blockchain-based activities — released a Geography of Cryptocurrency Report, and although Africa booms in terms of crypto adoption, the continent had the smallest cryptocurrency economy of the regions surveyed, with $8.0 billion received in transactions, and $8.1 billion sent on-chain as at the time of the analysis. 

On Monday, August 23, 2021, Finder, a virtual comparison platform, released its Finder Cryptocurrency Report, analysing the global cryptocurrency adoption rate. The survey gathered responses from 42,040 persons in 27 countries, with between 1,160 and 2,511 responses per country. 

Was Africa on the list? South Africa was the only African country surveyed in the report, which concluded, based on responses, that 15% of South African adults own cryptocurrency. 

How do one thousand responses tell the true story of crypto adoption in South Africa? That’s 15% (3.29 million) of the 21.85 million adults in the country. We can tell the number of crypto transactions we have, but the number of people who own crypto? That’s hard to tell. 

Is it just me, or do reports like these tend to exaggerate the adoption rate of cryptocurrency in the African region? One of such led Jack Dorsey to conclude via a tweet that 32% of Nigerian adults own Bitcoin, and he was corrected because only 2,000 to 3,000 Nigerians were surveyed in the report. 
In Africa, cryptocurrency has received multiple responses. From swift adoption in countries like Botswana, to bans, stiff regulations, cautionary statements, and actions in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Plentywaka raises $1.2 million seed round

Plentywaka Team 2
Plentywaka’s co-founders, L-R: Onyeka Akumah, CEO; Afolabi Oluseyi, VP Product Development; Johnny Enagwolor, President; Shaibu John, VP Customer Engagement. Source: Supplied

What’s the story? Toronto-headquartered shared mobility startup, Plentywaka, has announced a $1.2 million seed round to scale its African operations.

That’s not all: The company also announced that it had acquired Accra-based mobility startup, Stabus, growing its African presence as it eyes further expansion.

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Who participated? Toronto-based VC, The Xchange led the round. Other participants include China-based VC, SOSV; US-based VC, Shock Ventures; Nigeria-based Àrgentil Capital Ventures; and  Nigeria-based ODBA & Co Ventures. Techstars Toronto made a follow-on investment.

What does Plentywaka do? It provides ride-sharing services to users on-demand. Essentially, it combines the affordability of public transport with the comfort of ride-hailing. 

Why Stabus? Onyeka Akumah, Plentywaka CEO, says the Ghanian company fits perfectly into the company’s expansion plans. 

Isidore Kpotufe, Stabus’ CEO, was another big draw, with Akumah citing his brilliance and shared vision as important factors in the decision.

Stabus will launch as Plentywaka Ghana on September 16, 2021, with Kpotufe leading the team as Country Manager. 

Want to know more? You can read: Shared mobility startup, Plentywaka raises $1.2 million seed round, acquires Stabus Ghana

OPay is now a unicorn

OPay app
The OPay app

Where’s the fire? Well, there’s no fire, but there’s certainly some interesting news. OPay has become Africa’s fifth unicorn.

The Chinese-backed Africa-focused fintech startup joins the ranks of Flutterwave, Fawry, Interswitch, and Jumia.

How did this happen? According to Bloomberg, the startup received $400 million in new financing in a round led by Softbank Vision Fund II at a valuation of $2 billion. 

Also participating in the round were previous investors, Sequoia Capital China, Redpoint China, Source Code Capital, and Softbank Ventures Asia. Others include DragonBall Capital and 3W Capital. 

This news comes three months after The Information reported that OPay was planning a $400 million raise at a $1.5 billion valuation.

The company’s African history is interesting. From its failed Super App ambitions to expanding into North Africa to entering the remittance market, OPay has delivered plenty of fodder for newsrooms.

Currently, OPay offers mobile money, lending and investment services on its platform. And per Bloomberg, boasts monthly transaction volumes of above $3 billion, up from $2 billion in December 2020.

Considering Africa’s largely underbanked population, OPay’s business model seems to be holding strong. Perhaps, we might see an expansion into more African countries.

What we’re reading/watching

  • The Art of Reading More Effectively and Efficiently. Read 
  • How to talk to kids about climate change. Read
  • Fish fins could hold the secret to designing better airplanes. Read
  • The Paradox of Choice. Watch
  • Latin America’s Deadliest Place to Be a Woman. Watch

Oppoortunities

  • Ewuare Fund is giving out $5000 in Scholarships/Grants. Read more
  • Rise is hiring Sales Associates. Apply here

Have a wonderful day!

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Writer, Humanoid, Forever she/her, Lover of words.

Out here, trying so hard to maintain my faculty of wonder in a fast-changing world. Language, books, and aspiring tech enthusiast. Keep in touch


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