Nigerian blockchain-based Wi-Fi sharing startup Wicrypt has closed a strategic US$1.5 million funding round to help it expand into new countries.
Wicrypt is a decentralised mobile internet sharing and monetisation network that allows anyone to get paid for sharing their Wi-Fi. Users download the Wicrypt app and provide Wi-Fi through their mobile device or by purchasing a unique, custom-built Wicrypt Hotspot Creator device.
Wi-Fi providers can customize their customer experience through their Wicrypt dashboard, by offering surveys, ads, and collecting customer data. Wicrypt-connected devices are all represented by unique NFTs that are linked to the blockchain. While Wicrypt hosts are paid by those accessing WiFi, Wicrypt also incentivises hosts through its native token, $WNT, for having high device up-time.
The startup launched in Africa in 2018, and signed an exclusive partnership with the city of Enugu, Nigeria to provide internet service to its citizens. Bootstrapped by its founder, it became profitable in 2020, and has now raised US$1.25 million in funding to enable it to scale further.
The round was led by AU21 Capital, with participation from Polygon founder Sandeep Nailwal, Inclusion Capital, Outlier Ventures, Chain Capital, Pluto Digital Assets, Onega Ventures, N7 Labs, Cardano and PolkaFoundary.
“While we have formed substantial business partnerships in Africa, this funding allows us to grow into new countries by increasing our marketing efforts,” said Ugochukwu Aronu, chief executive officer (CEO) of Wicrypt.
“Wicrypt is providing last-mile internet to people of the world who need it, while leveraging the blockchain by having hosts stake $WNT to become a part of the Wicrypt Network. This ensures overall security of the network and that hosts do not perform malicious actions while providing internet connections to clients.”
Nailwal said investing in an already-profitable company was rare in the blockchain space, but on top of that, Wicrypt is giving people the ability to access the internet in regions where Wi-Fi can be very expensive and unattainable for many people.
“By empowering people to share their Wi-Fi and make money, they are making this a win-win situation for all involved, particularly in remote regions where large internet companies are not incentivised to provide coverage,” he said.