Bitt, the Barbados based financial technology company has closed its Series A investment round with a staggered investment from retail giant Overstock.com of $16 million USD, placing the company’s valuation at $50 million US Dollars.
“Bitt has a vision for the Caribbean of frictionless mobile cash, beginning with central banks transparently issuing digital fiat which is then exchanged using a blockchain mechanism (with proper regulatory oversight).” said Overstock.com CEO Dr. Patrick M. Byrne. “We respect and endorse that vision, and share a common desire to see online consensual exchange flourish globally.”
“One love,” Byrne added.
The investment was announced at a media conference in Barbados attended by principals from both Bitt.com and Overstock.com, in addition to dignitaries from various Caribbean nations.
For its part, Bitt.com intends to use the proceeds from the investment to further its goal of building a financial ecosystem in the Caribbean that remedies the issues which people in the region experience daily, including high frictional fees from banks and money services operations that make sending money in and out of the region cumbersome and costly.
“Regional small businesses find it financially prohibitive to offer online payment options to consumers and this places a drag on entrepreneurism in the Caribbean,” said Bitt CEO and Co-Founder, Gabriel Abed. “Our aim is to use cryptography and digital ledger technology to turn our regional citizens into global citizens, giving them the ability to send or receive money directly via their phones, in seconds, from all corners of the globe.”
In February of 2016, Bitt launched a digitised Barbadian Dollar on the bitcoin blockchain. The company intends to digitise all of the fiat currencies found in the Caribbean and place them on the blockchain so they can be easily traded between the islands, bringing modern solutions to a region historically limited by inefficient exchange and settlement systems.
“Bitt’s financial technology revolution will bring to consumers a faster, better, cheaper and more traceable way of banking – and we now have a new, multi-billion dollar backed investor to help make this vision a reality,” said Oliver Gale, Bitt CFO and Co-Founder. “Bitt is bringing modern financial solutions to a region long denied efficient settlement systems,” he underscored. Bitt will use the newly secured funding to further develop its software suite which includes a digital asset exchange, a mobile money wallet, a remittance platform, and merchant payment processing tools. Additionally, Bitt will rapidly expand, growing its staff to meet the goals of providing a top-quality service that will encompass the entire Caribbean region. Overstock will add to this growth via shared learning and the mobilisation of its existing tech team.
Bitt is the first Caribbean startup of its kind to attract such major funding from international investors. “It is a vote of confidence in the entire region,” said Abed, “Too often regional entities are considered to simply be ‘on-par’ with or playing ‘catch-up’ to their international counterparts, Bitt is not part of this imitation game. We are world-leading. The standards we are setting here are being adopted by the wider community. We, and this region, are the focal point of the conversation.”
Also in attendance was the Hon. Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance (Barbados) who gave the new partnership his, “and the government’s full support,” referring to the announcement as an historic event of “national advancement” for Barbados. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future,” he added.
Principal Bitt investor Peter George, representing Trinidadian investment firm Avatar Capital, hosted the announcement. Pressed for comment he said, “Overstock.com has always been at the forefront of cutting edge technology as it seeks to expand its reach to customers both domestically and globally. Patrick [Byrne] is a deeply principled man who has battled relentlessly to level the playing field, and who has not been afraid to blaze new trails. I could not have envisioned a better fit for Bitt than this.”