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.

Facebook and Amazon Stock Hit New Highs as Stock Market Outperforms Economy

The price of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) stock hit a new all-time high amid the coronavirus pandemic, as the stock market has been outperforming the economy.

According to available data, Facebook stock is now trading above $230 marking a new all-time high for the social media giant. Its positive performance comes shortly after it launched Facebook Shops, a platform that makes it easier for small businesses to sell to its billions of users amid the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking to CNBC Todd Gordon, managing director at Ascent Wealth Partners, said FB stock has been having a “very impressive” performance, noting that Facebook’s move up is “pretty spectacular.”

FB stock chartSource: Google

Facebook Shops gives the social media giant a new source of revenue, at a time in which advertisers are spending less because of the crisis. It comes as the deadline to launch the Libra cryptocurrency project approaches.

Amazon has been managing to outperform Facebook, however, as the e-commerce giant recently hit a new all-time high close to the $2,500 mark. AMZN stock dipped shortly after hitting it but has since recovered, and ahead of the opening bell is at $2,451.

The e-commerce giant’s performance comes after it reported gains in the first quarter of the year amid the coronavirus outbreak, as demand went up. It further announced it will be using all of its second-quarter earnings, of around $4 billion, in response to the crisis.

Amazon Stock price chartSource: Google

Stock Market Outperforms Economy

Other blue-chip stocks have been performing rather well, despite the toll the pandemic has taken on the global economy. According to Yahoo Finance, data from April included dismal jobs numbers and poor retail numbers, which led economists to lower their economic growth forecasts.

This month Goldman Sachs cut its GDP forecasts and warned the unemployment rate in the United States will reach 25%, while Credit Suisse economists warned a “longer growth slump will outlast fiscal relief.”

Economists from Bank of America said that the recession will be “unlike anything we have seen in modern history,” after claiming GDP in the second quarter of the year would fall at a 40% rate. Large firms in the S&P 500 index have, however, posted better results than expected.

Credit Suisse’s Jonathan Golub was quoted as saying:

  • Although aggregate earnings are beating estimates by +2.6%, ex-Financials, earnings are surpassing expectations by +7.1%, with 65% of companies exceeding their lowered projections.

These better than-expected-results help, according to some analysts, explain the rise in the stock markets.

Featured image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash