Bittrex Leads $1.5 Million Funding Round in Crypto Trading Platform Over ‘Tremendous Untapped Potential’

Francisco Memoria

Popular cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex has recently led a $1.5 million seed funding round in a South African cryptocurrency exchange called VALR over the “tremendous untapped potential” the company sees in the country.

According to CoinDesk, Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara believe the South African market still has a lot of potential. Investor Michael Jordaan of Montegray Capital seemingly agrees, as he believes VALR’s support for 50 cryptocurrencies will be the most diverse offering in the continent.

He was quoted as saying:

The VALR team has the potential to change the cryptocurrency landscape in South Africa and globally.

The CEO of the South African trading platform, Farzam Ehsani, told the news outlet that it already has 1,500 users signed up, and that a backend partnership it has with Bittrex is set to offer it liquidity and competitive prices for crypto-to-crypto trading.

VALR itself is set to work on getting fiat on-ramps with South African banks during the summer, to give its users a change of buying cryptocurrencies with the South African rand. Ehsani claimed local residents “want their hands on a store of value that doesn’t depreciate the way the rand has.”

He added:

Companies are not allowed to go and buy [large amounts of] crypto from offshore markets. This makes it very difficult for crypto exchanges in South Africa to access liquidity from international market

The country’s fiat currency has notably lost half of its value over the last ten years, and capital control stop citizens from transacting across border over certain amounts. These factors have seen seeing South Africans turn to cryptocurrencies, which often trade at a premium in the country.

Marius Reitz, manager at South African bitcoin exchange Luno, told the news outlet that its user base notably grew to over 2 million earlier this year. The platform is notably looking to expand to 20 new countries in the continent this year.

Ehsani himself noted that VALR’s reach goes beyond South Africa, as its know-your-customer (KYC) checks accommodate traders from “most countries.” The CEO sees remittance payments as a potential use case for cryptocurrencies in the region, as remittance services in the country are expensive.

The South African government has looked into cryptocurrencies in the past. The South African Reserve Bank has, in fact, recently published a paper on prioritizing cryptocurrency regulations.

Those Banned From Facebook May Not Be Able to Use Its Cryptocurrency Libra

Facebook’s two days of congressional hearings on the social media giant’s cryptocurrency ambitions seemingly revealed that those who have been banned from Facebook may not have access to Libra.

During the congressional hearing Facebook had to answer some tough questions, and one of them came from Representative Sean Duffy, which asked the company’s cryptocurrency head, David Marcus, who’ll have access to Libra.

The Congressman initially asked Marcus who could use the cryptocurrency, to which Calibra’s CEO answered: “anyone that can open a Calibra account, that can go through KYC [know-your-customer checks] in countries where we can operate.”

Duffy then referenced two individuals banned from Facebook for violating its community guidelines, Louis Farrakhan and Milo Yiannopoulo, and asked whether they’ll be able to use the social media giant’s cryptocurrency.

Marcus ended up replying he doesn’t “know yet,” after seeing Duffy hold a $20 bill and ask hin who can use it. His point was that cash doesn’t discriminate, and that anyone who can hold it can use it.

While throughout the hearing Marcus tried to point out the company will follow appropriate regulations and comply with lawmakers, Duffy responded that a proper answer would be “as long as you abide by the law, you can use Libra.” The fact he didn’t get this answer, Duffy said, gave him “great pause.”

Speaking to The Daily Beast Elka Looks, a Facebook spokeswoman, clarified Marcus addressed the Congressman’s concerns later on in the hearing. She stated:

For Libra, anyone who is engaging in lawful activity will be able to transact on the network. Facebook will have no say. For Calibra, there is no policy in place yet, but we will share it when it is closer to being finalized.

The news outlet adds that Calibra, Facebook’s wallet to send, receive, and hold Libra, doesn’t yet have final terms of service or a privacy policy. All of this means that those who’ve been banned on Facebook may not have access to its cryptocurrency.

As CryptoGlobe covered, Congressman Warren Davidson implied during the hearings Facebook’s crypto is a ‘shitcoin’ as it doesn’t have some of the properties bitcoin has. The Congressman made it clear bitcoin has no central authority that can censor transactions or dilute its value, while Libra has the Libbra Association.