Valiu, a startup focused on Bitcoin-backed payments and remittances in Latin American countries, announced today that it has raised $5.25 million in a seed round led by Blockchange Ventures and Anthony Pompliano’s Pomp Investments.
As Decrypt explored in an article last year, the Colombia-based Valiu began operations in Venezuela to make it easier for cross-border remittances, allowing emigrants who left the country to live in Colombia to send money to family members still remaining back home.
Limitations on use of the US dollar, as well as issues with legacy services such as MoneyGram and Western Union, have impacted the ability to easily send money into Venezuela. On top of that, hyperinflation has significantly weakened the value of the Venezuelan bolivar. Migrants, many of them unbanked, have turned to the black market for cross-border remittances.
Valiu’s mobile app allows users to instead buy synthetic US dollars backed by Bitcoin, and easily send them to other users across borders. Recipients can then cash out to a Venezuelan bank account within an hour. Alternatively, Valiu can be used as a savings account to protect money from the bolivar’s hyperinflation. According to Valiu’s website, the service has now processed more than 400,000 transactions worth $8.4 million in total, and counts more than 52,000 users to date.
The seed round also included participation from Castle Island, Messari’s Ryan Selkis, and Alex Pack, as well as existing investors Y Combinator, Mercy Corps, IDEO Colab, and others. Blockchange Ventures’ Head of Investments, Terry Rossi, will join Valiu’s board of directors as part of its investment.
“One of the most significant, global applications of the blockchain will be to improve financial stability and inclusion,” said Rossi, in a release. “Valiu is doing this by making dollar accounts accessible to anyone in Latin America.”
Valiu plans to use the seed funding to further grow its user base and make the benefits of cryptocurrency accessible to more and more users across Latin America, as well as further invest in permissionless, censorship-resistant blockchain technology. Valiu is also working on interest-generating savings accounts, lending and investment products, and additional on/off-ramps for crypto usage.
News Source from Decrypt.co