Adaverse, the joint accelerator initiative set up by EMURGO Africa and Everest Ventures Group, successfully joined a pre-seed round to support Bitmama’s mission of leveraging the use of blockchain and other frontier technologies to solve cross-border payment limitations in Africa.
Ruth Iselema, a Nigerian female entrepreneur, is spearheading seamless cross-border payment through Bitmama, a Web3 payment platform improving financial transactions in Africa through the use of cryptocurrency. Traditional payment platforms in Africa have long been plagued by issues of unreliability, high processing fees, remittance delay, and lack of transparency. Cross-border payments, in particular, have been challenging due to the need to convert local currencies to dollars and then back to the recipient's local currency. Regardless of the various cryptocurrency policies of African countries, the emergence of Web3 solutions presents a promising opportunity for the rapidly growing economy.
Vincent Li, founding partner at Adaverse said, "We are excited to back Bitmama and committed to providing advisory and mentorship support to set them ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving Web3 industry. As a key player in the fast-growing African crypto market, Bitmama is well-positioned to capture a significant share of the cross-border payment market projected to exceed $40 billion in value by 2025. Our investment in Bitmama reflects our dedication to advancing cryptocurrency adoption in Africa and bringing innovative financial solutions to underserved markets."
Bitmama: The Journey So Far
Ruth Iselema founded Bitmama in 2016 with the sole purpose of making it simple for anyone on the African continent to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. The project started out as a WhatsApp community for peer-to-peer crypto transactions and has evolved into a Web3 platform with a full suite of products, including a multi-coin digital wallet, peer-to-peer crypto trading, wallet-to-wallet global transfers, remittances with stablecoins, direct currency conversion, on/off-ramp transactions for traders, asset staking features, and its most iconic crypto debit cards.
Bitmama is notable for constantly innovating to address the pain points of its users, and one of these is the recent dollar/FX shortages experienced in major African markets and currency devaluation, which have led to an increased demand for cash to facilitate global purchases, with businesses seeking alternative payment options for cloud services and digital infrastructure. In response, Bitmama identified crypto cards as a solution to address these challenges, allowing users to store and spend their cryptocurrency just like a traditional debit card.
Bitmama Unique Crypto Debit Cards: Changera
Alongside the multi-coin Crypto wallet, Bitmama recently launched Changera to power cross-border payment services and enable the use of virtual and physical crypto debit cards globally with a monthly spending limit of over $10,000. Bitmama introduced Africa's first crypto debit cards using stablecoins, combining blockchain payments and lifestyle to cater to individuals who prefer basic user interfaces and less crypto jargon. The cards have been particularly useful in countries like Nigeria, where regulations prohibit the use of naira cards for international transactions, and where existing Web2 payment platforms fail to offer a suitable alternative. As a result, Bitmama's innovative product has provided much-needed cross-border relief.
Changera crypto debit cards have achieved remarkable success, recording rapid growth from 30,000 to over 100,000 users in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and the diaspora. The transaction volume has also been increasing by over 100% month-on-month, demonstrating the popularity of the product despite minimal marketing. By enabling users to make day-to-day purchases online using stablecoins, the crypto debit cards have successfully democratized the use cases of cryptocurrency, advancing blockchain adoption in markets experiencing slow adoption of the technology.
Ruth Iselema, CEO of Bitmama commented, "We are excited about our partnership with Adaverse as they will assist us in advancing unique use cases of crypto across Africa. Through our partnership, we aim to expand our offerings and reach even more individuals, especially the underbanked and the diasporans. We are looking forward to integrating the Cardano stablecoin (USDA) when it launches, and we believe that cementing our relationship and partnership with Cardano would create a symbiotic relationship for both our customers and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem across Africa."
Meet the CEO
In the short interview below, Ruth Iselema shares some insights on her motivation behind the blockchain-based solution and the progress since the launch of Bitmama;
What is the Bitmama Backstory and Why Blockchain?
I think the real question is, “Why not blockchain?” I got involved in the blockchain industry because of my interest in the technology and the potential it holds to disrupt traditional financial systems. I especially loved its potential for social impact and financial inclusion for the average person. In my quest to contribute to its development, my passion for creating meaningful solutions using blockchain technology led me to start Bitmama in 2016. As one of the earliest pioneers in the African blockchain industry and currently the only female leading a top venture-backed blockchain company in Africa, I saw several possibilities that the traditional finance companies are either ignoring or have not yet explored. Someone needed to cause a paradigm shift and disrupt the status quo. Most of the global and other domestic companies were focused on P2P trading and regular buy and sell; we took our product a notch higher.
What is Your Experience as a Female Founder Building in the Fintech Industry?
Bitmama’s success can be attributed to our exceptional team and our commitment to ensuring financial accessibility for all, including the unbanked population, which has a significant percentage of women in rural Africa. As a female founder in the technology industry, I am aware of the historical under-representation of women in this sector, resulting in unique challenges due to gender bias. However, I see these challenges as opportunities to do more, and I have intentionally built a strong network of allies and advocates by connecting with other leaders in the industry. At Bitmama, we will continue to support and collaborate with initiatives that promote inclusivity. We are proud of the work we have done so far and look forward to continuing our efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive world through financial literacy and accessibility.
How does Bitmama differentiate itself as a payment company in the fintech space and what are the next plans for development?
Our goal is to become a globally relevant payment solution, and we achieve this through continuous innovation and the prioritization of the customer experience. We listen to our customers and have crafted a product that is multi-functional, easy to use, and addresses the financial pain points of individuals and businesses. Our next phase of development will accommodate more gateways to enable seamless payments.
Bitmama plans to integrate the Cardano stablecoin (USDA) as soon as it launches in the coming months, and we look forward to potential partnerships with other dApps in the Cardano ecosystem. We have chosen to integrate the Cardano stablecoin and deepen the partnership within the ecosystem because of the protocol’s sustainable and environmentally friendly approach, which aligns with Bitmama's mission of financial accessibility for all and responsible use of resources.
Shogo Ishida, Co-CEO of Emurgo Middle East and Africa commented, “With Bitmama's focus on research and market data, we recognize their unique position in the rapidly evolving crypto market. We are confident that our reach and expertise will provide valuable insights and real-time information to aid their global expansion plans. We'll offer necessary tech support and resources to maximize their efficiency, as well as create strategic synergies and collaborations with our portfolio companies and partners to further strengthen their position in the industry."
Adaverse is a Cardano-focused accelerator—set up jointly by EMURGO Africa, a subsidiary of EMURGO, the official commercial arm of the Cardano protocol, and Everest Ventures Group, a leading blockchain and digital asset venture studio—looking to identify and scale promising Web3 projects in Africa. Having already invested in thirty (30) fast-rising startups developing Web3.0 and Layer2 infrastructure projects, such as exchanges, NFTs, gaming, DeFi, Proptech, and more, Adaverse plans to commit additional resources to socially impactful solutions, particularly Cardano-based projects, across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to help drive the next wave of the Web3 global economy."
To explore the unique products for crypto trading and payment solutions, visit Bitmama website.
Young startups building Web3 solutions can apply for funding here.
Adaverse Official Links
Facebook: Adaverse Accelerator
Startup School: Adaverse Startup School
BuildUp Africa Podcast: BuildUp Africa