[San Francisco] Wala, a blockchain-powered financial services platform for the unbanked and underbanked, has announced October 4 an equity investment from Newtown Partners, the venture capital firm founded by Llew Claasen and Vinny Lingham. Llew Claasen is the Managing Partner of Newtown Partners and also the Executive Director of the the Bitcoin Foundation. Vinny Lingham is best known as the Founder of mobile gift card company Gyft, sold to First Data in 2015 and more recently, Civic, a Silicon Valley-based startup that completed a $33m token sale for a digital identity management platform in July 2017. Newtown Partners previously assisted their portfolio company Augmentors, operating in the augmented reality space, to complete a very successful $1m token sale in February 2017, at the time the largest gaming token sale in the world. The new equity investment in Wala will enable the startup to deliver on the promise of zero-fee financial services for the 3.5bn consumers who are currently excluded from the formal financial system.
Wala is a platform that provides access to transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance for the unbanked and underbanked. Wala works with best of breed specialist providers in each market they’re operational in, including banks, to offer a full suite of financial services. Partners benefit from the reach and low cost access to previously unserviceable customers enabled by the Wala platform.
Wala has already grown its financial services community to 1 million consumers in over 100 countries. These local customer communities have been instrumental in testing prototypes of the Wala Financial Platform and demonstrating that digital technology can be used to effectively remove the key barriers to the adoption of financial services by the underbanked and underserved: access, cost and embedded economic incentives.
Wala founder and CEO Tricia Martinez commented: “Through the use of blockchain technology and tokenization, we have developed a platform that makes it possible to serve the financially excluded economically at scale. Our community's guidance has ensured that the Wala Financial Platform has been built by the people for the people.”
The roll out of the Wala platform is initially planned for emerging markets in Africa, following the footprint of local banking services partners, before expanding globally.
“We are thrilled to be working with Newtown Partners,” continued Martinez. “The depth and breadth of their expertise as both entrepreneurs and investors in technology, combined with their commitment to creating globally successful startups will be key to the future success of Wala. We are excited about taking the next steps in our journey with Llew & Vinny.”
As part of that journey, Wala will be the launch partner for a new financial services utility token, Dala, which will be sold and issued in a crowdfunding token sale this October. Dala will support the operationalization and further development of scalable, blockchain-enabled financial platforms for developing markets around a common unit of account and microeconomic incentive structure to create strong network effects. The Dala token sale will look to crowdfund US$30M over a 4 week period and issue participants with their share of 300 million Dala utility tokens. The Dala token sale will also use the Civic app to provide identity verification services to backers.
“Wala’s blockchain-enabled platform will enable greater access to zero fee financial services to billions of consumers in emerging markets and enable everyone to become economically active, no matter where in the world they are. These are the kinds of big problems being addressed by bold innovations that we like to back” explained Llew Claasen, managing partner of Newtown Partners.
Wala is a best-of-breed financial platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. Their mission is to help the 3.5 billion underserved and unbanked emerging market consumers reach financial prosperity by eliminating their barriers to banking. Wala achieves this by closing the gap that exists between consumers and financial service providers, increasing the accessibility of the financial system.
Newtown Partners is an angel investment and seed stage venture capital firm that invests in early stage technology startups in Africa and the US that show global potential. Founded and run by internationally successful startup entrepreneurs, Llew Claasen and Vinny Lingham, Newtown Partners also has a keen entrepreneurial focus that goes beyond simply investing capital. Newtown Partners abhors the status quo and invests time and money into startups that drive economic activity in a fundamentally positive way.