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BitMEX secures US$3.4-m to back Jhb-based VALR

Top global cryptocurrency derivative exchange BitMEX has led a US$3.4 million Series A funding for Johannesburg-based crypto exchange, VALR.

BitMEX is the most widely-used crypto margin trading platform globally with a daily Bitcoin volume in 2019 that at times surpassed US$11-billion as the demand for the top cryptocurrency increased.

The investment, which aims to power VALR's expansion into other countries with new products and services, will also give BitMEX parent company 100x exposure to South Africa as a market with high potential.

The announcement comes in the wake of a Twitter hack that made global headlines after yet-to-be-identified perpetrator(s) gained access to accounts of high profile individuals and used their respective pages to solicit top cryptocurrency Bitcoin in a doubling giveaway scam.

Barely a week after the hack, it is virtually business as usual within the crypto space, evidence of little disruption to the industry.

It's a view shared by Bellaj Badr, CTO at Mchain and author of Blockchain By Example, who believes the Twitter hack will draw unwarranted attention in the short term, but will be irrelevant for Bitcoin in the long-term.

"Such incidents might increase attention about Bitcoin but, at the same time, they tarnish its reputation since the emphasis is on its usage for an illegal activity which might enforce the existing psychological bias against Bitcoin and cryptos in general as associated with criminals," Badr said.

"Either way, bitcoin has established itself as a global currency and it doesn't need such short-term free publicity."

According to the recently released The State of Crypto Africa by Arcane Research and Luno, despite reports that the Bitcoin peer-to-peer market in Africa has been growing rapidly, the significant lack of typical infrastructure (including nodes, mining operations, supporting merchants, ATMs and exchanges) has been a major hindrance to realising the potential of cryptocurrency in Africa.

Backed by BitMEX and with support from former CEO of First National Bank (FNB) in South Africa, Michael Jordaan, South African cryptocurrency owners could stand to benefit.

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