BY TOM JACKSON ON MARCH 21, 2018
Kenya-based payments startup BitPesa has launched a suite of services in Ghana as it looks to lower the cost of payments between the West African country and others in the region.
Launched in Nairobi in 2013, BitPesa is a digital foreign exchange and payment platform that leverages blockchain settlement to lower the cost and increase the speed of business payments to and from frontier markets.
The startup, which already has offices in Lagos, London, Luxembourg, Madrid and Dakar, secured two rounds of investment last year to take total funding to US$10 million, and is now expanding its footprint in West Africa with its launch in Ghana. Since Nigeria is already an important market for BitPesa, Ghana was a natural choice for expansion, the company said.
BitPesa is now offering new currency pairs, allowing Ghanaians to make GHS payments that settle in more than ten currencies, including NGN, UGX, and ZAR. The startup says it can significantly lower the cost of payments from Ghana to other important trading partners, such as Nigeria.
As of today in Ghana, customers are able to buy and sell bitcoins on the online platform. Businesses are also able to make payments intra-Africa to Ghanaian mobile accounts. BitPesa is connected to two mobile networks in Ghana now, with more services to come soon.
“We are constantly looking for ways to promote intra-African trade, so we’re very excited about our services in Ghana. Ghanaians should be allowed to make global payments using their own currency and we are excited to facilitate this. We will continue to improve service offerings, compliance, and value for our new Ghanaian customers,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, chief executive officer (CEO) of BitPesa.
Earlier in 2018, BitPesa acquired TransferZero, a digital payments company based in Madrid, expanding its footprint across Latin America, the Caribbean, and other frontier markets.
In November 2013, the digital currency exchange, Bitpesa, opened up shop in the country and one of its leveraging tools turned out to be M-Pesa.
Its initial target market was individuals sending money from UK to Kenya. While the sender sends bitcoins, the recipient receives the money in the form of Kenyan Shillings with their mobile number or M-Pesa account serving as the digital wallet.
But that seem to have expanded to enable individuals to covert their money between shillings and bitcoin using an M-Pesa account. Indeed, it is now possible to buy bitcoins using M-Pesa for other purposes such as trading.
And the cost of all these transactions is capped at 3%.
Things seem to be going well for the company as it was able to raise up to US$1.1 million in its second round of funding from San Francisco-based Pantera Capital, Crypto Currency Partners, Future/Perfect Ventures, Stephens Investment Management, and Bitcoin Opportunity Corp. among others in February 2015.