Coinbase, Alameda-backed Mara launches African crypto wallet service
Some 2 million users in Nigeria and Kenya are set to be onboarded to a new cryptocurrency wallet backed by the likes of Coinbase Ventures and Alameda Research.
Mara is a digital financial ecosystem project that is kickstarting its journey with the launch of a cryptocurrency wallet for signed-up users in Nigeria. A portion of the waitlist will be onboarded through an invite-only process starting on Oct. 27, followed by the onboarding of users in Kenya and Ghana.
The project is backed by cryptocurrency industry heavyweights, having raised $23 million in a fundraising round headlined by Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research, Huobi and several other investors and venture capitalists.
The Mara wallet will offer cryptocurrency brokerage services through its app, allowing users to buy, send, sell and withdraw fiat and crypto. The app will also provide access to educational resources focused on cryptocurrencies and personal finance management.
Launching alongside the wallet is the Mara Foundation, a nonprofit intended to drive blockchain and sustainable development in Africa. The foundation is also partnered with USD Coin (USDC) issuer Circle and Euro Coin (EUROC) to drive uptake of the stablecoins.
Related: Crypto users in Africa grew by 2,500% in 2021: Report
Web3 and blockchain development are also a focus of the project, with Mara aiming to train 1 million developers on the continent. A first effort to drive this goal was a hackathon dubbed “Hack the Mara,” aimed at building payment solutions to support Kenya’s Maasai communities and improving the financial sustainability of conservation projects.
The Maasai Mara is a large ecological and wildlife conservation area in Kenya that is set to benefit from the initiatives aimed at fostering developers and payment solutions in East Africa. Three winning teams out of 24 local developers were awarded a share of $100,000 in prizes as well as entry in a startup accelerator program to continue their product development.
The foundation will also roll out an educational community offering free-of-charge resources on financial literacy, cryptocurrency, Web3 and blockchain education in multiple languages. Students of the Mara Academy will receive certifications, allowing them to then teach and mentor other users in the program.
The project also aims to launch a proprietary layer-1 blockchain solution called Mara Chain that is intended to run decentralized applications. The blockchain platform is touted to launch before the end of 2022.