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Zimbabwean Bitcoin startup BitFinance secures new investment, plans to grow user base & raise currency awareness

BitFinance, African Bitcoin startups, Blockchain in Africa

BitFinance, a crypto-currency startup and Zimbabwean Bitcoin exchange just announced that it has secured additional capital from local angel investor Taurai Chinyamakobvu.

According to the BitFinance team, the funds will be used to expand the reach of their service and enhance the user experience on BitcoinFundi, their Bitcoin exchange which is an online platform used by third-party subscribers to hold and trade bitcoin with other subscribers.

Bitcoin is the world’s largest and most traded digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds.

Bitcoins are created and held electronically and unlike traditional government-backed currencies they are not printed but are generated by the bitcoin protocol using software and mathematical algorithms.

For anyone in Zimbabwe’s who’s been following blockchain technology and Bitcoin’s emergence as a currency alternative in the country, BitFinance is hardly a new name.

The startup, co-founded by Tawanda Kembo and Verengai Mabika in 2014 gained some visibility across Africa in 2015 when it was accepted into Savannah Fund’s 4th accelerator class in Kenya. This is where the team secured its first round of funding.

We caught up with Kembo who expressed his excitement about the new investment they’ve secured, especially in a Zimbabwean startup setting where structuring and securing investment is a bit challenging. In a quick Q & A here’s what he had to say.

Can you disclose how much funding you have secured or offer a rough indication of the amount?

Unfortunately although we decided that we want to announce the investment we decided not to disclose how much it was.

You mentioned the aspect of UX improvement and scaling. Can you shed a bit more light on the aspect of scaled operations? Will this also mean a drive to raise awareness on Bitcoin?

I can be more specific on this one. We want to enhance the user experience particularly focusing on the amount of time it takes a customer to move money into and out of BitcoinFundi. Regarding scaling, what we meant was awareness through education and growing our customer base in Zimbabwe. We also now accept (South African) Rand deposits/withdrawals and we’ve added the BTC/ZAR currency pair for traders. We want to spend more marketing dollars to get more people to do BTC/ZAR trades.

How much traction have you registered so far in terms of users and/or transactions?

We have consistently been growing every month. In the month of January 2016, we only had 62 new customers but in November 2016 alone, we acquired 208 new customers. In January 2016 only $759 was traded on BitcoinFundi but in November 2016 alone, $31,000 was traded on BitcoinFundi. Our revenue last month was 7,652% higher than it was at beginning of the year. This investment will help us keep that momentum.

Are there any targets for growth in 2017?

In 2017 we’re going to focus on establishing more B2B partnerships – we think that’s where our biggest growth potential is. We’ve also learnt from our partnership with BeForward earlier this year that businesses, particularly those that move money across the border, are where the need for bitcoin is the greatest. A lot of companies whose businesses involve cross-border payments feel stranded and don’t know how they are going to survive 2017. Except those that are already using bitcoin of course.

What’s your take on how Bitcoin can emerge as an international payment solution for Zimbabwean businesses in 2017/18?

I think bitcoin is already the international payment solution. Governments all over the world are making it harder to use fiat currencies for international payments through capital controls and they are making fiat currencies less attractive for domestic payments too with the bank limits/restrictions and with the cash wars such as those that are happening in India right. Lots of people are looking towards bitcoin as the way out and you can measure this demand by how fast the price of bitcoin is going. The value of bitcoin has increased by about US$2 billion over the last few days alone.

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8 thoughts on “Zimbabwean Bitcoin startup BitFinance secures new investment, plans to grow user base & raise currency awareness

  1. Fambai nebhora boys dzangu. The bitcoin future is yours.

    Its also interesting though, have local banks mapped how their future intersects with bitcoin and blockchain tech? I notice the bitcoin price breached the $900 mark today, whats the impact to local holders or interested parties?

  2. Guys, beware of this Bitcoin currency: true it is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency and that’s that. I wouldn’t advise my aunt or mother who is in the rural areas to take on Bitcoin: Bitcoin is a political expression and not a safe economic choice. Better invest in gold or start trading in forex today. The major disadvantage with Bitcoin is is crypto nature: there is no central system for monitoring transactions: transactions are between the buyer and the seller. Because of that, it is relatively easy to set up ponzi schemes with Bitcoin. It is also easy to dupe someone using bitcoin. So my request is that you guys at Techzim, while trumpeting the virtues of bitcoin or any new technology for that matter, make it your business to educate the public not only on the benefits of any new technology, but its setbacks and other dangers. In this comment, I would have written a thesis on the benefits of this bitcoin and its setbacks, but let it suffice to say that since you’ve already started marketing this startup and its potential, also highlight the dangers of this system. I especially like Dzoma’s critical analysis of some tech stuff: that guy sure knows his business and I challenge him to educate the public on bitcoin. My final remark is that sure we have cash crisis, but at the moment bitcoin cannot be a substitute for our economic mess. Bitcoin remains a virtual currency and rejected by the largest economy in the world for its inherent dangers to the untechie public. So just because we’re a Third World nation who might benefit from this isn’t the answer: all currency is controlled by the country’s monetary policy based on economic activities by the general public and business.

    1. Tambai Makachenjera, I understand your position to some extent. Yes its true that people must be educated about both positive and negative aspects of Bitcoin. I however disagree with your position which I quote “Bitcoin remains a virtual currency and rejected by the largest economy in the world for its inherent dangers to the untechie public” I think that the main reason that Bitcoin has not been quickly embraced by gvts is not because of the risks that it poses to the public ( Governments generally care more about their control over people than the safety of people), The main reason for the lack of popularity of BItcoin amongst gvts is the fact that governments have no control over it like they have on Fiat currency. However If you do a bit of research you will find that the US gvt is actually now a major player in the Bitcoin market. The FBI actually holds a large amount of Bitcoin. Yes there is a downside to it , for example it makes it easier to facilitate settlements for illegal transactions such as drugs, firearms etc. But there is also a downside to Fiat currency. Every Zimbabwean knows this. In short I would say this, dont put your eggs ( i.e savings) in one basket. Keep your savings in Bitcoin ,USD, Gold, Cattle,Land, etc. Spread the risk but I think its rather ignorant to turn your back on Bitcoin just because some crooks started Ponzi schemes which use Bitcoin, because a lot, in fact even more Ponzi schemes have been done with USD but we condemned the Ponzi schemes not the currency.

    2. You understand very little about Bitcoin I can see. Please educate yourself first.

      The world’s largest Ponzi Schemes are run in USD, Euro, Rand Yuan etc, not Bitcoin. Was Bernie Madoff running his Ponzi scheme on Bitcoin?

  3. Now this is one of the real startups in Zimbabwe. With real growth and traction. Well done guys keep going!

  4. Which country backs “Bitcoin” as currency?
    Even though it sounds like the coolest idea ever, you may want to rethink using the Bitcoin. Bitcoins are peer-to-peer recognized not by a country or corporation like how we back the U.S. Dollar and the Brits back the Pound. This can cause some problems. For example, a web designer was just let off the hook in Miami for Bitcoin laundering on a count of it not actually being a form of currency. That means all those people that thought that getting paid in Bitcoin counts may as well have been getting paid in compliments instead. Source: The Skimm

  5. Kkkkkkkkkk no one has mentioned the fact that Bitcoin has a transaction card where you can like your traditional bank card may not only be used in a specified Country. By the way your transactional card transacting USD in Zimbabwe may not beused in USA.
    But I enjoy the discussion I may wonder who wants to warn and protect who because even USD its a foreign currency which led to introduction of Bond Paper because of its shortage and off course clever people trading in Bitcoin at night stand on a podium and remind the nation to be careful.
    Allow people to use their money the way how the President use your money at will and no-one disputes him.
    Don’t try to warn everyone warn yourself and remain safe. We still remember last time where the money froze from our accounts before our dear government did warn the dearest citizen who pay taxes.
    Anyway it’s my opinion as off course it’s everyone’s here.

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