Coinbase-Backed MARA Raises $23 Million To Build A Strategic African Crypto Exchange

The last few years have seen strong crypto adoption among young sub-Saharans Africans, primarily driven by the bleak economic realities in many countries in the region. However, crypto development and adoption in Africa appears to be entering a new age, with a growing number of African governments seeking ways to integrate crypto into their respective economies. In April, the TON Foundation announced that it was in conversation with three Central African countries to launch regionalized stablecoins. The Central African Republic also recently announced that it would make bitcoin a legal tender in the country.

Now, MARA, a new pan-African crypto exchange, is looking to sit at the intersection of the emerging government- and retail-led crypto adoption in Africa. The company has announced the raise of $23 million in equity and token sale from investors including Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research (FTX), Distributed Global, TQ Ventures, DIGITAL, Nexo, Huobi Ventures, Day One Ventures, Infinite Capital, DAO Jones and about 100 other crypto investors.

MARA plans to launch a suite of products, including a custodial retail crypto wallet, a pro-exchange for professional traders and a layer-one blockchain that aims to become the go-to network for developers to build Africa-focused crypto and blockchain products. The retail app will launch in July, with the exchange coming after that, the company said. The MARA chain is scheduled to go live in the fourth quarter. Also, the startup will first launch in Kenya and Nigeria before expanding to other African countries.

MARA will find itself competing for market share against deep-pocketed incumbents such as Binance and Digital Currency Group’s Luno, as well as indigenous players such as Yellow Card, Quidax, Buycoins and…


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