San Francisco — March 15, 2021 — Today, the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) announced a $750K USD Enterprise Fund investment in Cowrie Integrated Systems, a fintech startup headquartered in London, United Kingdom, and office in Lagos, Nigeria. This investment provides Cowrie with resources to continue to expand their operations in emerging markets and further develop payment corridors between, into, and out of Africa, with an initial focus on Nigeria given its status as the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
Cowrie is a cross-border payments solution services provider that allows users, most of whose currencies are not internationally traded, to participate in a global financial market. Despite being part of the largest economy in Africa, fewer than half of individuals in Nigeria have bank accounts, which largely excludes them from the global economy. Focused on cross-border payments in emerging markets, Cowrie provides inexpensive and efficient payments and remittances services to the ever-growing Nigerian population.
“Nigeria is the world's fifth-biggest destination for international remittances with the seventh-largest population globally, but the traditional money transfer process remains costly, inefficient and impossible for many. The Stellar Development Foundation has been a vital partner in our mission to bring efficient cross border payments to West Africa,” said Cowrie co-founder Gbubemi Agbeyegbe. “SDF’s investment and support will allow us to continue building upon our 2020 growth and explore new market possibilities.”
The investment comes at a time of regulatory ambiguity and public debate over digital assets in Nigeria following updated guidance from the Central Bank of Nigeria on February 5. In light of this, Cowrie has responded by both engaging with relevant regulators to try and develop appropriate regulation of cryptocurrencies going forward and also assessing and adapting its current business model.
“We are excited by the challenge and opportunity of applying blockchain technology to cross border payments,” said Bayo Adeniji, Cowrie CEO. “In light of recent developments in Nigeria’s regulatory environment, we’ve streamlined and aligned our existing and future service offerings to ensure we can continue to provide B2B cross-border payment services between Nigeria, Europe, and the US in full compliance with Nigerian, and potentially other African countries’, laws and regulations.”
“The SDF Enterprise Fund was created to support innovative companies like Cowrie, which has shown both tremendous agility in responding to an evolving regulatory landscape and leadership through their engagement with regulators to share ways of leveraging this technology to benefit Nigerians while still meeting the objectives of the Nigerian government,” said Denelle Dixon, Stellar Development Foundation CEO and executive director. "We are here to support them not only through this investment but also through our shared commitment to creating the right policy and regulatory frameworks for blockchain technology by fostering close collaboration and partnership between the public and private sectors."
This is the second investment made from SDF's Enterprise Fund this year, after having invested $5 million in Wyre, a leading blockchain payments company, in January. The SDF Enterprise Fund has invested more than $15 million since its launch in 2020.
About Cowrie Integrated Systems
Incorporated in the UK and Nigeria, Cowrie Integrated Systems is a fintech company that provides value-added services over electronic payment networks. Cowrie Integrated Systems is a well-established Nigerian payment processor and fiat to crypto payment platform and exchange. For more information visit www.cowrie.exchange.
Stellar is a decentralized, fast, scalable, and uniquely sustainable network for financial products and services. It is both a cross-currency transaction system and a platform for digital asset issuance, designed to connect the world’s financial infrastructure. Dozens of financial institutions worldwide issue assets and settle payments on the Stellar network, which has grown to over 4.8 million accounts.
About Stellar Development Foundation
The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization that supports the development and growth of Stellar, an open-source network that connects the world’s financial infrastructure. Founded in 2014, the Foundation helps maintain Stellar’s codebase, supports the technical and business communities building on the network, and serves as a voice to regulators and institutions. The Foundation seeks to create equitable access to the global financial system, using the Stellar network to unlock the world’s economic potential through blockchain technology.