An offline mobile map for travelers has raised $50 million in a seed-funding round led by Alameda Research.
Announced Monday, the funding will go toward the launch of a multi-currency wallet on Maps.me and enable a decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem on the offline mobile map platform.
Cryptocurrency lender Genesis Capital and institutional cryptocurrency firm CMS Holdings also participated in the round.
According to a press statement shared with CoinDesk, the platform’s wallet is expected to “unlock DeFi tools” for its 140 million users by allowing them to access a range of payment and investment tools in the Maps.me ecosystem.
“By embedding and democratizing access to yield-earning finance to millions of users via an everyday app, Maps.me has the potential to really propel DeFi mainstream adoption,” said Alameda Research’ CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
The move intends to remove intermediaries and banks from the financing-of-travel equation by enabling users to store value and earn yields of up to 8%. Users will also be able to send and spend money in multiple currencies for cross-border travel, offer cash back on transactions and exchange funds without hidden costs, per the statement.
With its wallet offering, the travel platform said it’s aiming to combat high foreign exchange fees and commissions charged by banks and third-party travel booking providers. Maps.me intends to allow users to make travel bookings directly through its integrated wallet with “near-zero” fees.
The Maps.me app provides offline access to turn-by-turn routing, travel guides, hotel bookings and maps which is targeted toward travelers without cell phone reception or pre-paid phone plans.
“A seasoned developer team combined with a sharp product design has the potential to bring a huge amount of traffic to…DeFi through the Maps.me app,” Bankman-Fried told CoinDesk via Telegram.