SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Celo, an open-source blockchain ecosystem focused on making decentralized financial (DeFi) systems and tools accessible to anyone with a smartphone, today announced $20 million in new backing from purchasers and partners including Andreessen Horowitz, Greenfield One, and Electric Capital. To date, Celo has garnered more than $65 million from backers including Polychain Capital, Reid Hoffman, Jack Dorsey, Coinbase Ventures, Social Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Version One Ventures, SV Angel, and Valor Capital, among others.
“We now have the technology to create a better financial system – a rich ecology of digital assets and products that allow individuals and organizations to more seamlessly transact and manage risk,” said Rene Reinsberg, co-founder of Celo. “It’s been great to work alongside hundreds of like-minded, mission-driven organizations and entrepreneurs all over the world to bring this technology to life.”
Since the initial development of the Celo Platform in 2017, the Celo community has developed and launched a Mainnet, a native asset (CELO), a stablecoin (cUSD), a mobile payments app, and has been listed on major exchanges including Coinbase and Binance. To date, more than 2M transactions have run across the Celo network, making it one of the most actively used decentralized payments platforms on the market today.
“When we first began supporting Celo two years ago, we saw the opportunity to build a ‘full stack’ global payments platform that anyone with a smartphone could use to send, receive, and store money,” said Katie Haun, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “Celo can dramatically reduce fees and fraud while also making payments instantaneous and global.”
“Celo’s mobile-first approach combined with cross-chain interoperability is truly unique,” said Avichal Garg, Managing Partner at Electric Capital. “A mobile-first philosophy means anyone can onboard into the Celo ecosystem quickly and with just a mobile phone number. Combined with the interoperability bridges that the Celo community is building, people anywhere in the world will soon be able to send Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital assets using only their smartphones. We are quickly moving to a world where cryptocurrencies and digital assets are accessible to anyone, globally.”
Valora Enters Global Remittance and Payments Arena with Fees as low as $0.01
Today also marks the launch of Valora, the first mobile remittance and peer-to-peer payments app built on the Celo platform. Following significant testing and a successful pilot program late last year, Valora is now globally available for download by virtually anyone with a smartphone.
Currently there are over $500B in global remittances, with traditional money transfer fees costing as much as 15%, sometimes taking several days to settle. With Valora, users can send and receive funds from virtually anywhere around the world within seconds. Because transactions run on the Celo Platform, the cost to transfer funds is minimal, typically costing as little as $0.01 per transaction.
“The fact that Valora has already found so much acceptance in practice is really impressive,” said Sebastian Blum, Managing Partner at Greenfield One. “This is the reason we all got interested in this space in the first place. We are currently seeing crypto come to life and being used like any other currency. Valora is the perfect example of crypto innovation and how to develop on the Celo platform to put crypto in the hands of millions of users.”
Since its beta launch in September 2020, Valora has seen exponential growth and adoption, with tens of thousands of users, most of them active on a daily or weekly basis, across more than 100 countries with hundreds of thousands of cUSD transactions across the platform.
How it Works:
- Download Valora from the Google Play or App Store
- Sign up for an account using your phone number
- Fund your Valora app with Celo Dollars (cUSD)
- Save or send cUSD to anyone in your contact list
- Your recipient receives a text message to redeem their cUSD
Valora users can choose to securely save their cUSD in Valora, pay for goods with select merchants that accept cUSD directly, cash out to local fiat currency, transfer funds to a crypto exchange or convert cUSD to gift cards at major retailers around the world such as Amazon, Starbucks and Walmart. To download Valora, please visit https://vlra.app/live.
Valora was built by cLabs, one of the many organizations that supports the Celo ecosystem. To help early adopters get up and running on Valora, the Celo community is funding a rewards program that will offer CELO to confirmed addresses that maintain savings in cUSD, with higher gifts of CELO for those who save more cUSD. Learn more at https://valoraapp.co/3tkhFFA.
Grameen Foundation Leverages Valora to Deliver COVID Relief to Thousands Impacted by COVID-19
The Grameen Foundation and the Celo Alliance for Prosperity today announced the conclusion of a successful program that leveraged the Valora app to facilitate the distribution of aid to more than 3,500 women entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19 across the Philippines. The Grameen Foundation and other Celo Alliance for Prosperity members leveraged their crypto and blockchain expertise to create a program that allowed recipients to download Valora, use cUSD to meet basic critical needs—such as purchasing food and medicine—and collect aid in a secure way.
“As with nearly every region across the globe, those most in need across the Philippines suffered dramatically amid the pandemic,” said Steve Hollingworth, President and CEO of the Grameen Foundation. “Cross-border efforts to provide aid during the pandemic have been even more complicated given the increased restrictions and health concerns. The Celo Alliance for Prosperity was able to move quickly to create a system to distribute cUSD through the Valora app to thousands of women across the Philippines through their smartphones. Almost none of the aid recipients had heard of cryptocurrency before, yet were able to easily download the Valora app, receive and use cUSD to pay for their basic needs, and paid almost no fees to do so. We are exceptionally pleased with the outcome of this project, as it was the first time we embraced blockchain technology and the results were far superior to anything we could have imagined.”
Celo is a mobile-first, open-source ecosystem of technologies, organizations and individuals that all share a common mission of building a financial system that creates the conditions for prosperity for everyone. The Celo ecosystem includes a decentralized, proof-of-stake blockchain technology stack (Celo Platform), a native asset (CELO), a stablecoin (cUSD) and the Celo Alliance for Prosperity, with over 100 organizations around the world, including Andreesen Horowitz, Anchorage, Coinbase, GSMA, Mercy Corps, Grameen Foundation, Prosegur, Abra, and cLabs, a service organization dedicated to growing and developing the Celo ecosystem. For more information on Celo, please visit celo.org.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit whose mission is to enable the poor, especially women, to create a world without poverty and hunger. In collaboration with our partners, we harness the power of digital data to create tech-forward tools for self-sufficiency and deliver them through local Community Agent networks. The Grameen Foundation Model is transformative regardless of Internet access, smartphone ownership or the ability to read.
Gasthalter & Co. (for Celo)
cLabs, working on Celo