American investor Alan Patricof has made his first bet on bitcoin.
Patricof is the founder and managing director of venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, which announced on Wednesday a $2 million investment into Kenya-based blockchain payments platform BitPesa.
BitPesa said Greycroft is the lead investor in the follow-up to its Series A funding round. The start-up said with a majority of its existing shareholders topping up and the addition of a new investor, Plug and Play, BitPesa has raised $10 million to date.
Greycroft’s investment may be modest in size, but the involvement of Patricof, who is considered to be one of the early pioneers of the venture capital and private equity industries, can be considered significant. Greycroft already has investments in fintech companies like Venmo, Acorns and Braintree, as well as in fantasy esports start-up AlphaDraft, but this is the first time that Patricof and his firm has ventured into the cryptocurrency space.
“Bitcoin and cryptocurrency will play an important role in the payments and money transfer industries and even more so in the developing world for which BitPesa is ideally positioned,” Patricof said in a statement.
BitPesa said the new funds will go towards its plans to expand into Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BitPesa, which was launched in November 2013, said it was the first company using bitcoin to receive an authorized payments license in the UK in 2015 from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company recently moved its group headquarters to Luxembourg to focus on French speaking Europe, while also maintaining an office in Senegal to focus on Africa.
“The speed of bitcoin payments has increased and this move ensures that technology can continue to have an ‘industrial use,’ underscoring how strongly people believe in it. We’re experiencing an exciting moment for the firm and for the industry,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, founder and CEO of BitPesa.