Vinny Lingham-backed crypto exchange gets war chest

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 31 May 2019
Left to right: Tom Masojada, chief product officer at Ovex; Nihar Ramchunder, CTO of Ovex; Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO of Invictus Capital; and Jonathan Ovadia, CEO of Ovex.
Left to right: Tom Masojada, chief product officer at Ovex; Nihar Ramchunder, CTO of Ovex; Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO of Invictus Capital; and Jonathan Ovadia, CEO of Ovex.

South African crypto-currency exchange Ovex has received funding from Invictus Capital, which believes the investment will prop up Ovex to break the monopoly created by Naspers-backed Luno in SA’s digital currency market.

Invictus did not disclose how much it invested in Ovex.

Ovex has now completed two successful funding rounds; the first with Newtown Partners, whose directors include Shark Tank SA’s Vinny Lingham and executive director of The Bitcoin Foundation, Llew Claasen.

Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO of Invictus Capital, says he is excited by the Ovex partnership and believes the time has come for a strong competitor in the African market.

“We look forward to the positive impact Ovex will have in offering the most extensive range of Altcoins in South Africa.”

The investment comes at a time when more and more crypto-currency players are descending on the South African marketplace. These include Luno, BitFund, Paxful, Coindirect and AltcoinTrader.

Ovex’s most recent funding round was led by the Invictus Capital team via its venture capital fund Invictus Hyperion (IHF).

IHF is an investment vehicle which is tokenised by way of an ERC 20 token. One of the Hyperion fund’s investments, Quantfury, recently exceeded $1 billion 30-day trade volume.

“Our mission is to accelerate the advent of an open and inclusive financial system, and we look forward to working with Invictus Capital to achieve this goal,” says Jonathan Ovadia, CEO and founder of Ovex.

Ovex was founded in 2017 and spent 14 months perfecting the technology behind the platform with a matching engine that is capable of processing in excess of one million trades per second.

The company says this makes it one of the fastest exchanges in the world. Having launched in January 2018, the exchange has seen rapid growth catapulting it into the top three South African exchanges by daily trading volume., it adds.

Invictus notes the South African population is renowned for having the largest percentage ownership in crypto currencies among local Internet users in the world, with 10.7% of all Internet users in South Africa claiming to own crypto.

It points out this statistic is further justified by Google Trends showing South Africans rank among the highest in the world (second only to Nigeria) for recent searches related to Bitcoin.

“The reason for this may be related to socio-economic factors, large strides in local crypto regulation, or simply an infectious interest for this nascent technology. Either way, there is no doubt that a significant opportunity exists for an exchange that can support the growing desire to partake in this emerging market,” Invictus says.

“Currently, the South African crypto exchange market is dominated by a company called Luno. With some large initial backers, coupled with first-mover advantage, Luno has managed to gain a monopoly on the market and accounts for nearly all of the volume.”

However, it says Luno’s service and product offering are, however, limited by comparison to its international counterparts.

“Ovex have sufficiently differentiated themselves and tailored their offering directly to the needs of their target market,” the company says.