South Africa's Internet Giant Leads $4 Million Raise for BitX

Multinational bitcoin platform BitX has raised $4m in a round led by South Africa's third largest company, the Naspers Group.

Jul 21, 2015 at 8:22 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:47 a.m. UTC

Multinational bitcoin platform BitX has raised $4m in a round led by South Africa's third largest company, the Naspers Group.

The investment, announced today, was made via the Internet giant's global payments subsidiary, PayU, alongside Barry Silbert's Digital Currency Group.

As part of the deal, James Caviness, PayU's chief product officer, will join the board of directors at BitX.

In a statement, he said:

"We see a bright future for cryptocurrency across a number of industry verticals, and with BitX's strong management team and solid track record, look forward to leveraging Naspers' global platform and local knowledge to help them capitalise on these opportunities."

Though it began as a local South African exchange, BitX, which offers wallet, exchange and merchant services to markets across Southeast Asia and Africa, has seen rapid growth over the last year.

Having invested time in building relationships on-the-ground and recruiting local staff in its branches, with the release of iOS and Android apps, it has also doubled down on mobile, which it described as the "de facto" computing device for the developing world.

The Singapore-based platform now claims to have the largest footprint of any cryptocurrency firm in the emerging markets.

High growth markets

Founded in 1915, Naspers which offers services in more than 130 countries worldwide, is a public multimedia organisation spanning Internet, video and print. Its market cap stands at £41.86bn, making it the third biggest company in South Africa.

PayU offers online payment services for 100,000 merchants in 16 of the world's high-growth markets. Like BitX, over its 10 year history the company has been focused on becoming experts in the local markets, or "local experts with a global presence".

BitX co-founder and CEO Marcus Swanepoel indicated this experience matched up with BitX's ambitions:

"In Naspers we have a truly global partner with unrivalled capabilities in high growth markets, and we’re very excited to work together in building out our global platform."

BitX was first acquired by South African firm Switchless in 2013. Last August, it closed a SDG$1m ($824,000) seed funding round from investors including Ariadne Capital and Barry Silbert's Bitcoin Opportunity Corp (BOC).

Like its previous round, BitX says its Series A will help accelerate the company's growth, including an aggressive hiring push – as illustrated by the 19 jobs currently listed on its site.

"Given our unique and competitive cost structure this funding round represents a significant capital injection to help expand our business," Swanepoel added.

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