a16z leads $20 million investment into African gaming startup Carry1st

African gaming platform Carry1st has announced a $20 million Series A extension led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Avenir and Google. A wide range of additional investors also took part in the round, including the founders of Axie Infinity and rapper Nas. The valuation was not disclosed. 

Carry1st, a16z's first investment into the African region, is a gaming marketplace that is also building its own payments stack. Carry1st founder Cordel Robbin-Coker says that the payments environment on the African continent is fragmented and fewer than 10% own an internationally accepted credit card, locking the majority out of participating in the international content economy.


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Carry1st's embedded payments solution allows for the underbanked consumers to pay for content on its site through their preferred method — including via cryptocurrencies. 

"We have a thesis that crypto is going to be more important and more consequential in Africa than anywhere else in the world," says Robbin-Coker. "We've already seen really significant adoption of crypto in many of our top markets because people have genuine day-to-day use cases for it." 

Currently, the company enables transactions via ten different cryptocurrencies — including USD Coin (USDC), dogecoin (DOGE), and bitcoin (BTC) — and plans to add more altcoins in the near future. Robbin-Coker says that a quarter of the funding will likely go to the company's fintech and web3 offerings and is currently exploring the development of an interface that easily brings its customers into crypto. 

About Author

Tom is a deals reporter at The Block covering venture capital, fundraises, fintech and M&A. Before joining, he was an editorial intern at the FT-backed platform Sifted where he reported on neobanks, payment firms and blockchain startups. You can reach him by email at [email protected] or Telegram @tommatsuda.