An offline mobile map for travelers has raised $50 million in a funding round led by Alameda Research.
Announced Monday, the fresh capital will go toward the launch of a multi-currency wallet on Maps.me and enable a decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem on the platform.
Cryptocurrency lender Genesis Capital and institutional cryptocurrency firm CMS Holdings also participated in the round.
According to a press statement shared with CoinDesk, the Maps.me wallet is expected to "unlock DeFi tools" for its 140 million users by allowing them to access a range of payment and investment tools.
“By embedding and democratizing access to yield-earning finance to millions of users via an everyday app, Maps.me has the potential to really propel DeFi mainstream adoption," said Alameda Research CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
The move intends to remove intermediaries and banks from the financing-of-travel equation by enabling users to store value and earn yields of up to 8%. Users will also be able to send and spend money in multiple currencies for cross-border travel, offer cashback on transactions and exchange funds without hidden costs, per the statement.
With its wallet offering, the travel platform said it's aiming to combat high foreign exchange fees and commissions charged by banks and third-party travel booking providers. Maps.me intends to allow users to make travel bookings directly through its integrated wallet with "near-zero" fees.
The Maps.me app provides offline access to turn-by-turn routing, travel guides, hotel bookings and maps which is targeted toward travelers without cell phone reception or pre-paid phone plans.
"A seasoned developer team combined with a sharp product design has the potential to bring a huge amount of traffic to ... DeFi through the Maps.me app," Bankman-Fried told CoinDesk via Telegram.
CORRECTION (Jan 18, 3:59 UTC): A press release incorrectly referred to the funding as a seed round. Maps.me raised its seed round in 2013, according to Crunchbase.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.