In 2017, two of the four co-founders of BVNK, Jesse Hemson-Struthers and Donald Jackson founded a cross-border payments company called Coindirect in Cape Town.
The project was focused on emerging markets: customers could bypass the global Swift system by transferring funds to stablecoins — cryptocurrencies tied to fiat currencies like the dollar — and then transferring them to euros or British pounds.
Davis says the project was profitable, and in January of this year his co-founders teamed up with BVNK.
However, there is no data on the merger in the register of British legal entities. Davis explained this by saying that the procedure was rather a rebranding.
Both Hemson-Struthers and Jackson left senior positions at Coindirect in August 2021.
It was a week after BVNK was registered, two months before, according to Davis, BVNK was launched, and four months before, according to Davis, the “rebranding” took place.
The profitability of Coindirect and the company’s global customer base may partially explain how, just a couple of months later, BVNK’s co-founders were able to convince Tiger Global to invest $20 million (half of the $40 million received at the end of the Series A round).
The founders of BVNK own 60% of the company, and if we accept the post-investment assessment after receiving the money and the amount of Tiger investments, we can assume that the American venture fund owns a stake of about 17%.
Although BVNK is headquartered in London with about 40 employees, the takeover of Coindirect means that most of its staff — about 70 people — are located in Cape Town. According to Davis, it is this presence in emerging markets that is the company’s unique trading advantage.
Thanks to Coindirect, he notes, the company understands how to transfer money from emerging markets to more mature ones, using cryptocurrency for this.
“Most of the time we grew based on consumer demand. Our clients don’t really want to use multiple partners around the world — they want to come to one place with global access.
Just as Revolut is growing very aggressively around the world because it’s important for them to have access everywhere, the same is true for us. We want parity in all our European, African and Asian businesses,” Davis comments.