Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta
Kubitx, a Pan-African financial technology startup registered in Malta, announced the beta launch of its new cryptocurrency exchange on Thursday. The platform, which supports six digital coins, including BCH and BTC, will initially be available to users in Nigeria, before the company expands it to other African countries in the coming months.
‘Hybrid’ Exchange Facilitates Payments,
Remittances and OTC Trades
“Today we launch the Kubitx Exchange feature release version 0.1,” Victor Philips, co-founder and chief operating officer at Kubitx, told news.Bitcoin.com by telephone. He added that 150 people qualified for the company’s open invitation to prospective beta test users seeking to participate in the launch.
Philips, a Nigerian economist and IT program manager based in Canada, said: “(The) first rollout spot for crypto-to-fiat conversions and bill payments using crypto is Nigeria — a suitable destination to test our platform, as the country boasts the largest population and active youth with massive crypto adoption, ranking sixth globally.”
Founded in 2017, Kubitx describes itself as a “hybrid digital asset exchange” that leverages distributed ledger technology to facilitate payments throughout Africa and abroad. It also offers trade financing, while handling remittances and over-the-counter trades. In addition, the exchange is registered as a legal entity in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
With the beta release, users will be able try out the exchange’s trading, deposit and withdrawal interface, among other features, using a demo token. Consumer feedback will then be incorporated into the final beta version, which will use real digital currencies such as BCH and BTC.
The trial period runs until Oct. 15, with official live trading to begin one week after that, Philips said. When fully operational, for example, a Nigerian who is a resident of the U.K. will be able to send money back home by depositing BCH through Kubitx. The recipient in Nigeria will then be able to withdraw funds in naira, the local currency.
“Once the beta test is done, we will have a one-week window to implement any suggestions received from the users on our platform, after which the (official) beta launch takes place,” Kubitx wrote, in a separate online statement.
Crypto Adoption Growing Steadily in Africa
The digital currency ecosystem has grown rapidly in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe over the past few years. Bitcoin has particularly become popular. The wave of steady cryptocurrency adoption is widely viewed as key to driving economic growth and financial inclusion, while reducing remittance costs throughout the continent, which is home to roughly 1.2 billion people.
Africa’s booming technological advancement is reflected in the rapid growth of mobile phone use, both as a means of payment and to serve as bank accounts. With more than 100 million active users of mobile money transacting about $2.1 billion each year, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Africa has become a global leader in mobile-based financial settlements.
In Nigeria, Kubitx recently reached an agreement with Interswitch International, a major payment switching company, to claim a 99% share of the Nigerian banking sector, with an additional presence in Kenya and Uganda. It will operate its fiat-to-crypto payments and remittance business in those markets, the exchange said. It has struck similar deals in Gambia with Modulus Global, and in Zimbabwe with undisclosed local financial institutions.
“Our ecosystem will support cryptocurrency-to-fiat handshake to get transactions done using the transparency, speed, security, immutability and decentralized features of the underlying (blockchain) technology,” said Philips. The exchange hopes to open new trading platforms in Zimbabwe, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere after it completes its planned $12.5 million initial coin offering later this year.