Starting Crypto Paymentsraised $2 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Sequoia Capital India.
The round also saw the participation of BEENEXT, Whiteboard Capital and several angel investors, including Jaynti KananiCo-founder of Polygon; Balaji SrinivasanFormer CTO of Coinbase and General Partner at a16z; Gaby Dizonco-founder of Yield Guild Games (YGG); Sanat Raogeneral partner at BlockTower Capital; Rahul Raico-head of Market Neutral at BlockTower Capital; Arun Samudrala, Head of Engineering at Google; and Gautam Seshadricommercial director of Blowhorn.
Nume Crypto advisors include Vinodh Bhat, Co-founder of JioSaavn; and Ankit JainCEO and co-founder of StepChange and former vice president of Ola Electric.
Speaking of the funding, Shailesh Lakhani, MD, Sequoia India said, “Nume aims to fulfill the original promise of cryptocurrency, which was to make it accessible to the masses as a payment platform. Their innovative approach and merchant-friendly business model immediately resonated with us and Sequoia Capital India is delighted to lead its pre-seed fundraising.”
Founded by sisters Madhumitha Harishankar and Niveda Harishankar in November 2021, Nume Crypto is a near-zero cost crypto payment gateway that processes cryptocurrency payments (ETH and ERC-20 tokens, for starters) powered by its new L2 scaling protocol.
Nume Crypto Raised $2M in Pre-Seed Funding
Before founding Nume Crypto, Madhumita and Niveda were not part of the crypto sphere on the employment front. However, Madumita has been working on crypto payments since the middle of her PhD. She presented her crypto research at Ripple’s UBRI conference in 2018 and also attended the Stanford Blockchain/SFBW conference in 2019/2020.
“At that time, I was working as a software engineer for a few years after my undergrad, and Niveda was working in design and product at Amazon,” Madhumita said. The story deciphered.
“But my research led to exploring blockchain and cryptocurrencies. I realized there was so much room here for financial inclusivity. The technology overcomes many geographic and government regulations and bridges gaps across the world in different regions,” she explained.
Madhumitha holds a PhD in Incentive Design for Wireless Networks (with a focus on streaming cryptographic micropayments for data usage) from Carnegie Mellon Universityand worked as a software engineer at Barclays and AWS.
Niveda was a UX designer at Amazon within the Marketplace, Alexa and Kindle teams. She led the design of the world’s first multi-voice assistant integration between Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, and created a new reading experience from 0 to 1 in Kindle for which she holds a patent.
What inspired them to move forward with their crypto business was its potential and unique impact. The sister duo reconnected for the business idea when Niveda left Amazon and moved back to India. Madhumita had come up with the research-based idea for her PhD.
At the core of Nume Crypto’s offering is the goal of making cryptocurrency transactions more economical. The platform is building an app to bring crypto to the masses. The protocol is focused on reducing treatment costs.
The founders are also part of the first cohort of redwood sparka one-year scholarship program combining capital and mentorship for which 15 women-led businesses in India and Southeast Asia were chosen.
One of the challenges is the number of people working in the crypto industry. The space is growing rapidly as more consumers are interested in understanding it, so the demand has increased. “Just keeping up with projects and technology in crypto, and the latest protocols to reduce costs is really difficult,” Madhumita reveals.
“The kind of advisors and investor interests we’ve had, I honestly didn’t feel like a ‘woman’ leader. I felt like a leader. Everyone is really ready to have conversations about the startup,” Niveda addresses, adding, “In India, the crypto space is in its infancy, and that way everyone is really interested in what we do.
When launched later this year, Nume Crypto will offer two products:
PayNumber: A non-custodial wallet that allows retail consumers to deposit their crypto and start making purchases from companies that have integrated with NumePay checkout, with no gas fees. The NumePay wallet removes device-specific dependencies while ensuring that Nume itself does not have access to users’ private keys. Customers can register by email, phone number or social authentication.
NumePay Company: It allows companies to start offering cryptocurrency payment options to their customers at 1% per transaction. Offering instant payment confirmations, NumePay Business also allows daily settlements to merchants’ NumePay Business account, which can then be withdrawn at any time. The 24-hour settlement time will be greatly reduced on a large scale.
The founders have several years of academic and corporate experience in engineering and construction products with a customer-first perspective.
“The Nume team brings a rare combination of deep crypto know-how and real-world execution capabilities. They are building a product 100x compared to the status quo of crypto or payment rails versus TPS, costs and overall efficiency,” said Dirk van Quaquebeke, Managing Partner, BEENEXT.
Currently, the products are in the early stages of beta testing with a public launch scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
(The story has been updated with additional details about crypto projects one of the founders previously worked on.)