Michael Jordaan backed crypto trading platform VALR raises $1.5m seed round [Updated]

Featured image, left to right: VALR co-founders CEO Farzam Ehsani and CPO Badi Sudhakaran (VALR via Twitter)

Joburg based cryptocurrency trading platform VALR — whose investors include local venture capitalist Michael Jordaan — has raised $1.5-million in a seed round led by US crypto exchange Bittrex.

VALR co- founder and CEO Farzam Ehsani told blockchain news publication CoinDesk last week that the startup had entered into a “backend partnership” with Bittrex which will offer VALR “global liquidity and competitive prices” for crypto-to-crypto trading.

Ehsani (pictured above, left) also told the publication VALR was working on “activating fiat on-ramps” with local banks. VALR’s platform currently supports trade in 50 cryptocurrencies.

VALR’s founders include CEO Farzam Ehsani, CPO Badi Sudhakaran and CTO Theo Bohnen

South African tech publication ITWeb reported that VALR — which was founded last year — had begun worldwide trading last Friday (1 March). The startups founders include CPO Badi Sudhakaran (pictured above, right) and CTO Theo Bohnen, while its investors include Montegray Capital CEO Michael Jordaan.

In an email on Wednesday (6 March), Ehsani said the funding will be used to build VALR’s team, platform and grow its customer base. The trading platform is currently celebrating its launch by offering all customers a 100% rebate on all trading fees during the month of March.

Ehsani said VALR’s customer base is currently “in the low thousands” and that it is “growing every day”.”We are already accepting customers worldwide and have the ability to onboard customers from over 160 countries using our AI and machine learning technology.” he said.

He further explained that the platform plans on launching fiat-to-crypto trading — specifically Bitcoin to Rand — in the “next one to two months”.

VALR, he said, is the first financial platform to offer customers negative fees. “This means that we pay market makers that bring liquidity to our platform 0.1% of their trade value. This is a first in South Africa, Africa, and most of the world,” he said.

VALR’s deal with Bittrex is the third investment to take place involving SA crypto startups in as many weeks.

Last month Coindirect and Rivex raised €1-million and R11-million, respectively.

Coindirect’s round was led by London-based investor Concentric, while Rivex would not reveal the identity of its investor other than to says that it is a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed firm.

Read more: Crypto exchange platform Coindirect raises €1m in round led by Concentric
Read more: SA crypto platform Revix to launch with JSE-listed firm R11m

Editor’s note (7 March 2018): VALR CEO Farzam Ehsani told Ventureburn in an email on Wednesday (6 March) that the startup’s seed round with Bittrex and Montegray Capital had been concluded at the end of July last year.

Ehsani explained the funding was done using a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), which means that the exact shareholding will be determined at a future date when VALR raises its next round of funding.

Featured image, left to right: VALR co-founders CEO Farzam Ehsani and CPO Badi Sudhakaran (VALR via Twitter)

Daniel Mpala


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