Home Startups  Web3 platform Fonbnk raises $3.5 million to help underbanked & underserved users across Africa participate in the digital economy

 Web3 platform Fonbnk raises $3.5 million to help underbanked & underserved users across Africa participate in the digital economy

by Sam Wakoba
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Fonbnk, an emerging markets web3 startup has raised $3.5 million seed round to help users of prepaid mobile SIM cards to easily obtain cryptocurrency assets by exchanging their airtime credits.

The round was led by New York’s New Form Capital, with participation from BTC’s Kraken Ventures, North Island Ventures, Formless Capital, Republic Capital, Audacity Fund, and Principle Ventures. Pharrell Williams also participated via his Black Ambition fund as well as a variety of leading early-stage investors including Hustle Fund, EchoVC, Lightspeed Ventures,  Frontier Ventures, Techstars (Western Union), Industrious Ventures, Allied Venture Partners, Seed9, GP Ventures, and Pax Angeles.

According to Akshi Federici, Operating Partner, Kraken Ventures, “Pre-paid airtime minutes are currency (for transfers, exchange of goods and services) across most of the under and unbanked populations globally. Fonbnk’s solution is a perfect use case – and directly in line with Kraken Ventures’ focus – to bridge Decentralized Finance with mass FinTech. The team’s mission-driven and thoughtful approach to launching this effort is particularly commendable and Kraken Ventures is looking forward to working with Fonbnk.”Part of the appeal of Fonbnk to such a diverse group of leading global investors is the shared vision and real potential of Fonbnk’s innovative solution to drive global financial inclusion and help unbanked and underbanked users across Africa, Latin America, and Asia participate in the current and emerging digital economy.

Present in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, and Mozambique, as well as those in India, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Jamaica,
Fonbnk is a distributed and decentralized finance company on a mission to onramp the unbanked and underbanked peoples of emerging markets across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia into the digital economy.

The Fonbnk platform leverages the widespread penetration of billions of prepaid mobile SIM cards to enable interoperability between the Web3 internet and traditional fiat-based monetary systems. Through Fonbnk’s mobile application, users access digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, stablecoins, and other crypto-based economies such as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and play-to-earn (P2E) crypto games, as well as traditional financial services such as Visa and Mastercard prepaid virtual cards.

Simply put, Fonbnk is the crypto onramp with the least friction across Africa and other emerging markets. Thanks to its mobile app marketplace, users across the world can easily obtain digital currencies by swapping their prepaid airtime credit at the press of a button. For the billions of users across emerging markets with prepaid airtime mobile SIM cards, Fonbnk is already one of the easiest ways to hedge against inflation, to make transfers across borders to other Fonbnk users, and to unlock various other benefits that digital assets offer.

In addition to acting as an onramp to the digital web3 economy, Fonbnk’s proprietary ecosystem also offers select individuals and enterprises the ability to earn additional income with their smartphones by acting as ‘market makers’ – individuals or companies that actively trade airtime in Fonbnk’s marketplace and ensure that Fonbnk users can easily transact.

“Fonbnk’s infrastructure makes it possible for everyday users to access, earn, transfer, pay, and save money easily, simply by using their existing smartphone. We’re on a mission to leverage the latest blockchain technologies to provide real value to billions of unbanked, underbanked, and underserved individuals across emerging markets. We believe that just as emerging economies leapfrogged fixed-line telecommunications straight into mobile phones, they’re likely to leapfrog traditional banking straight into decentralized financial services. And we’re building the rails to make that happen. We democratize participation in the web3 economy, making it accessible, frictionlessly, to billions of users across emerging markets,” said Christian Duffus, Fonbnk Founder & CEO.

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