Coins, a startup using blockchain technology to boost financial inclusion in Southeast Asia, has raised US$5 million in a Series A round led by a fund backed by non-profit Accion.
Accion, which supports microfinance ventures around the world, made its investment through its Frontier Inclusion Fund, which is managed by Quona Capital. Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors, Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, Wavemaker Labs, Global Brain, BeeNext, and Rebright Partners also participated.
Founded in early 2014 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson, Coins is a mobile blockchain-enabled platform that enables anyone, including those without bank accounts, to access financial services directly from their phone.
The firm currently operates in the Philippines and Thailand, claiming over 500,000 users. With more than 60% of Southeast Asia's population of 600 million unbanked, and less than five per cent having a credit card, it is confident of signing up millions more.
Using Coins, customers have access to a mobile wallet and services such as remittances, air-time, bill payments, and online shopping at over 63,000 merchants who accept digital currency. The firm has built up a network of banks and retailers that act as cash disbursement and collection sites, while partnerships in 40 countries enable low cost cross-border payment and remittances.
Says CTO Petursson: "In the coming months, we will continue to build new partnerships with banks, financial institutions, and retailers to connect customers across Southeast Asia with best-in-class financial services."