MARA, a Pan-African crypto exchange platform, which aims to increase the number of Africans that may be interested in the crypto economy, announced the closing of a $23 million seed round from a variety investors.
Among the most prominent web3 and crypto investors are Alameda Research, Distributed Global and Coinbase Ventures.
TQ Ventures was joined by Nexo Ventures (Day One Ventures), Day One Ventures as well as Infinite Capital and DAO Jones (investment DAO sponsored Mike Shinoda and Steve Aoki).
MARA was founded by Chi Nnadi on April 20, 2021. Llinás Mnera, Dearg OBartuin, Kate Kallot, and board advisors Kojo Annan and Tatiana Koffman make up the rest of the executive team. They hail from Rappi and PayPal, Nvidia (Uber), Founders Bank, Uber, Nvidia and Uber.
Nnadi was previously the executive director at Sustainability International, a non-profit that provided community-led solutions for the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
He commuted between Nigeria and the United States and became aware of the financial and sociological problems that Africans living in remote areas are facing. He also had an inkling about the potential benefits of blockchain and bitcoin technology.
Consensys and the Sustainability International team worked together on the Sela Technologies design.
It provided a platform for direct payments and shared accountability to stakeholders through smart contracts.
MARA claims that it is developing solutions for Africa’s crypto-finance market.
The company’s core product is crypto-brokerage software that allows consumers to buy, send, trade, and receive fiat currency and crypto-assets. It plans to launch the startup in Kenya and Nigeria in July this year.
Although MARA maintains that consumers don’t require any prior crypto knowledge to use this retail software, local options like VALR and Yellow Card, which are supported by Coinbase Ventures, are abounding in Africa. However, the web3 upstart’s subsequent goods may make it unique.
It will deploy the MARA Chain during Q4 this year. A layer-1 blockchain and Alchemy-like platform that is supported by native MARA tokens for developers who want to create decentralized applications (dApps) in Africa, it will be deployed.
Later, in Q1 2023, MARA plans to offer a pro-exchange for advanced traders who use technical analysis and desire a broad range of trading alternatives to MARA’s retail app’s standard exchange options.
In Africa, a few web3- and decentralized platforms such as Nestcoin, funded by Alameda Research, and Jambo, supported by Coinbase Ventures, have been introduced in the last year. These platforms promise to benefit millions and integrate millions into a new economic system. Their combined impact is yet to be acknowledged, but this could change in time.
MARA seeks to make an immediate impact. The company announced in a statement that it has formed a collaboration with the Central African Republic (CAR), Africa’s first government to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, and the world’s second only to El Salvador, to become its official crypto partner and a crypto advisor to the president.
Nnadi stated that his company would collaborate with other African governments to understand the benefits and create licensing systems for crypto companies that can operate in their respective countries.
It’s uncertain how MARA plans to reason with these regimes, whose record for toughness precedes them; yet, only time will tell what results from such discussions.
The one-year-old startup will continue to enjoy the largest funding for a African crypto/web3 startup at the moment. According to Nnadi, the organization has the good fortune of working with some of the world’s best crypto companies as well as some of the best venture capital firms.