How Africa reported in early 2019 that the Johannesburg-based VALR had launched its digital asset trading platform after securing US$1.5 million in a funding round led by the US-based Bittrex and former FNB chief executive officer (CEO) Michael Jordaan’s Montegray Capital.
In July of last year the startup raised a further ZAR57 million (US$3.4 million) in Series A funding to help it roll out new products and launch in additional markets. It now has 150,000 account holders and the largest selection of cryptocurrencies in South Africa, with over 55 coins to choose from.
It has now launched the first of those touted new products – VALR Pay. VALR Pay allows VALR customers to send ZAR to each other at zero cost, using any mobile number or email address even if the recipient does not yet have an account with VALR. The recipient will receive an email or SMS with an invitation to sign up to VALR for free to claim the funds. The startup uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to validate the identity of customers.
“The cost and friction of payments in South Africa is too high,” said Farzam Ehsani, VALR co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO). “So we decided to build VALR Pay. It’s free, fast and easy. Why bother with banking details and branch codes? Just open up your VALR app, type in a ZAR amount, select a contact from your address book and you’re done!”