Kenyan bitcoin startup BitPesa raises funding from BitFury

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Bitcoin transaction processing company BitFury Group has, through its investment arm BitFury Capital, made an undisclosed investment in Kenyan bitcoin exchange BitPesa.

BitFury said the investment in BitPesa – which offers exchange services in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania and raised a total of US$1.1 million in 2015 – was “strategic”.

BitPesa accepts bitcoin payments and then exchanges the bitcoin for local currencies, which it then deposits into bank accounts or mobile money wallets.

“Our mission is to make global transacting easier, especially for those who continue to face obstacles to financial growth,” said Valery Vavilov, chief executive officer (CEO) of BitFury.

“A secure, transparent and trusted form of exchange is being made possible by BitPesa, and our investment will allow us to work together to leverage the innovative power of the bitcoin blockchain for the benefit of the entire pan-African continent.”

Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa, said it was great for the startup to have the support of the BitFury Group, which she said works extremely hard to build a community amongst companies working with bitcoin, both large and small.

“Valery and his team have a long history working in frontier markets and nothing is more important to our team than an understanding and support of the work we do,” she said.

BitPesa ended last year embroiled in legal action, with Disrupt Africa reporting in November the startup and automated mobile payments company Lipisha had launched a legal complaint against leading Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom over allegations Safaricom intimidated Lipisha, and forced Lipisha to temporarily stop providing services to BitPesa.

In December, the Kenyan High Court judge hearing the complaint ruled against requiring Safaricom to reinstate BitPesa’s access to the M-Pesa network while the case is ongoing.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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