Bittrex Leads $1.5 Million Seed Round in South African Crypto Exchange VALR
Leigh Cuen's original article for www.coindesk.com reduced by 40%
Global crypto exchange Bittrex led a $1.5 million seed round in South African trading platform VALR. Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara told CoinDesk the South African market has "Tremendous untapped potential." Fellow VALR investor Michael Jordaan of Montegray Capital told CoinDesk that VALR's support for 50 cryptocurrencies will offer the most diverse range of assets of any African exchange when it opens to the public on March 1. Ehsani said a backend partnership with Bittrex will offer the new exchange global liquidity and competitive prices for crypto-to-crypto trading, while his team works on activating fiat on-ramps with South African banks by summertime.
"Companies are not allowed to go and buy crypto from offshore markets. This makes it very difficult for crypto exchanges in South Africa to access liquidity from international markets. want their hands on a store of value that doesn't depreciate the way the rand has." South Africa manager at the longstanding African bitcoin exchange and wallet provider Luno, told CoinDesk that Luno's user base grew to over 2 million user accounts by early 2019.
As for VALR, Jordaan said Ehsani's history as the former head of the Rand Merchant Bank's blockchain initiative and inaugural chair of the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium, which included dozens of traditional financial institutions, could help bridge the gap between African banks and the global crypto economy. Plus, the South African Reserve Bank published a paper about prioritizing crypto industry regulation in January. Much like global markets, many South African exchange users are speculative traders and investors.
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