Out of the $3.14 billion funds raised by African businesses in 2022 across 570, $474 million was attracted by blockchain firms from 29 deals. Amongst these web3 firms are the two first blockchain African unicorns – Kucoin and Scroll. While there have been unicorns in Africa in previous years, the continent just got its first two blockchain-based unicorns.
According to CV VC, the criteria for being a unicorn is to be a private tech company that is valued at $1 billion and above, that is either headquartered in Africa or has the bulk of its operations on the continent. Based on this, Kucoin and Scroll became the first two blockchain unicorns.
KuCoin is a cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2017 and headquartered in Singapore. It offers a wide range of cryptocurrencies for trading, including popular coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, as well as lesser-known altcoins.
It has its own cryptocurrency, called KuCoin Shares (KCS), to which holders of KCS are entitled to a portion of the trading fees generated by the exchange, as well as other benefits such as discounted trading fees and access to exclusive investment opportunities.
KuCoin has also developed a mobile app that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies on the go, as well as trading bots and algorithms to help users optimize their trading strategies. However, users should exercise caution and conduct thorough research before trading on the platform.
The firm with an operational headquarters in Seychelles, offers trading (spot trading, margin trading, P2P fiat trading, futures trading, and P2P fiat trading), staking, and lending that covers over 700 digital assets for 27 million users in 207 countries and regions.
KuCoin raised over $150 million in investments in 2022, valuing it at $10 billion. It is one of the top 5 crypto exchanges and Forbes named it one of the Best Crypto Exchanges.
Scroll is an Ethereum Layer-2 scaling solution that improves network performance by improving transaction throughput and lowering gas prices, allowing for efficient and smooth blockchain transactions.
The firm handles Ethereum layer 2 network transactions to aid Ethereum on its own network, then transmits the transaction data back to Ethereum to help boost transaction speed and minimize cost, and finally generates verification to prove that the transactions are legal. This proof is then published to the Ethereum network. Scroll was established in 2021 and is headquartered in Seychelles.
It attained unicorn status in Q1 2023 after a Series B funding of $50 million in March 2023 which included Sequoia Capital, and Qiming Venture Partners. In total, it has raised $83,000,000 valued at $1.8 billion.
50% of African unicorns down
In the general list of African unicorns created by CV VC in 2021, only 50% of the businesses still have that status of being a unicorn at the end of 2022. Three other firms including Kucoin and Scroll, joined the list between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023. The others are:
- Opay – OPay is a Nigerian financial technology business that offers a suite of smart financial services via its mobile app, allowing consumers to manage their funds more effectively.
- Interswitch – Interswitch is a prominent African digital payment and commerce startup that helps consumers and companies by simplifying transactions and improving the payment experience.
- Wave – Wave Mobile Money is a Senegalese mobile banking service that provides consumers across Africa with easy-to-use, low-cost money transfers, savings, and loans.
- MNT-Halan – MNT-Halan is an Egyptian fintech startup that provides a variety of financial services to underbanked companies and people, such as microloans, payments, and digital banking solutions.