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Crypto-friendly Telecom Startup Raises $12 Million in Series A

In brief

  • OXIO is a carrier-as-a-service platform.
  • It’s raised $20 million as it looks to expand from Mexico to the US, Australia, and Brazil.
  • It’s a white-label, B2B telecom solution that allows mobile phone users to switch between networks.

OXIO, a carrier-as-a-service platform that integrates elements of blockchain technology, has raised $12 million in a Series A led by Brazilian VC firm monashees and Florida-based Atlantico Capital.

The company introduced services in Mexico this year and has eyes on the US, Brazilian, and Australian markets for 2021. With $20 million in funding so far, including sizable seed investments from Multicoin Capital and FinTech Collective, the company is primed to compete in an American market with high mobile data prices.

It’s a bit hard to describe what OXIO does because, first, it does a lot and, second, it’s not quite like anything else on market. Founder and CEO Nicolas Girard was quick to tell Decrypt what it’s not. “It’s not one of those crypto proof of concepts where you’re trying to do things in a different way on top of a blockchain,” he said. “It’s first and foremost a commercial product with a commercial vision that happens to use blockchain.”

In addition to blockchain, there are at least three major qualities about OXIO to point out: It’s a white-label, business-to-business telecom solution that allows mobile phone users to benefit from multiple networks.

For starters, there’s a class of mobile phone companies that don’t own their own infrastructure. Mint Mobile, for example, rents T-Mobile’s cell towers and cuts down on the frills and overhead to provide users a discount. Oxio is also white-label in this regard, as it doesn’t possess its own infrastructure, but instead “rents” excess capacity from other networks.

But Mint or Boost (Sprint) or Cricket (AT&T) are all single-network providers. OXIO instead uses a multiple-network approach so that mobile users can get lower rates. Being untethered is somewhat common in developing economies, where some people use multiple SIM cards to switch between networks. In this way, they can capitalize on discounts—using one network’s half-price Tuesdays and another’s cheap Saturday nights—to save money.

To help facilitate network-hopping more broadly, OXIO plans on using a token on the Stellar blockchain that represents the value of bandwidth—a veritable data exchange built on blockchain. “This asset can be sold to consumers, traded on exchanges, lent or gifted,” the company wrote in a March 2020 blog post.

However, OXIO isn’t selling to individual consumers but to businesses who can offer their own bespoke mobile networks.

Why would it want to do this?

Because it beats the relatively small margins of being a white-label mobile carrier and creates an entirely new market.

“We’re effectively extracting the data from the telecoms service and [turning] that for them into business intelligence,” Girard told Decrypt. “So, if you’re Walmart, you’re effectively now a mobile operator for your customers. You can build loyalty programs and promotions around it, and the data coming from the telecom insights will help you do competitive analysis on your customers—where they go versus the stores or why cohorts are less valuable than others…”

It’s all about tapping into telecoms data—with OXIO providing the business intelligence and taking care of the privacy worries. The startup insists that “OXIO gives end-users on its platform full control and visibility over what data is shared. Unlike most publisher monetization platforms that exist today, OXIO does not aggregate and sell user data.”

OXIO’s premise is definitely selling with investors. Now, with an injection of $12 million, the company can see if more businesses are ready to buy in.

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