Pillow aspires to be an all-in-one platform that helps even newbie users save, spend and invest in crypto currency. The Singapore-based startup announced it has raised $18 million in Series A financing co-led by Accel and Quona Capital, with participation from Elevation Capital and Jump Capital.
The app currently has more than 75,000 users in over 60 countries. It supports 10 digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, Axie Infinity and USD-backed stablecoins USDC and USDT, and plans to expand to over 50 assets in the coming months.
Founded in 2021 by Arindam Roy, Rajath KM and Kartik Mishra, Pillow is focused on emerging markets like Africa and Southeast Asia. It founders say that since the beginning of the year, it has grown its user base by 300%, with assets under management growing 5x. It also recently expanded into Nigeria, Ghana and Vietnam, among other markets.
Before founding Pillow, Roy and KM explored web3 while working at identity verification and AML software provider HyperVerge, while also holding jobs in the traditional finance industry. During this time, the two started a Discord server on the side to onboard people onto web3, which eventually grew to more than 15,000 people.
“We saw a pattern of problems repeating,” the two told TechCrunch. “People do not know how to pay gas fees, do not know how to bridge across various blockchains, people do not know what transaction they are approving and end up losing funds.”
Around this time, the two met Mishra, who was head of business for Indian delivery startup Dunzo, and started talking about how to solve the onboarding problem at scale.
“Eventually, we realized that the challenge is that crypto transactions today do not fit the mental model of how retail users perceive transactions. You would need a strong technical background to transact seamlessly in crypto,” they said.
As a result, Pillow was born to make crypto usage understandable.
To do this, the Pillow team has to tackle a couple big issues. The first is awareness, since the majority of people still think crypto is just buying and selling Bitcoin, without understanding other use cases. The second is complexity, since using crypto in its entirety means understanding gas fees, blockchain technology and bridging. “A person who just wants to transact is not going to scale this learning curve,” they said.
Pillow solves these problems by simplifying crypto investments and transactions to one click, instant swaps and savings using single-click daily interest savings. It plans to do the same for other crypto services like payments.
To use Pillow for the first time, people sign up using their email accounts, and then provide KYC information, such as live selfie photos and national identity cards. Afterward, they get a short lesson on the potential risks of investing in digital assets before choosing which ones they want to deposit or invest in. Before their initial investment, they are taken through another lesson about that asset’s potential risks.
After that, they can deposit cryptocurrency from their own wallets or another crypto platform by making a transfer to the displayed crypto wallet address on Pillow. In some countries where Pillow has partnered with local, compliant on-ramp service providers, users can also buy crypto with their local fiat currency. Pillow supports deposits and withdrawals with fiat currency through local partnerships in Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam, with plans to add more across Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America with its new funding.
The startup’s largest user base is in Nigeria, and it also has a major presences in India, Ghana and Vietnam, and growing user bases in Brazil, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It focuses on retail investors, enabling them to start with investments as small as $5.
Since Pillow’s users are from different geographies, its closest competitors also come from around the world. They include crypto exchange Luno in Africa, multi-asset exchange Pluang (another Accel investment) in Southeast Asia and global crypto savings app Nexo. Pillow’s founders says it differentiates with its goal of becoming a holistic home for digital asset-driven financial services that allows even first time crypto users users to earn, save, spend and invest from the same platform.
Pillow is currently in growth phase and plans on introducing transaction fees as new products, including swaps and tokenized real world assets are introduced. It currently makes profits on returns generated on top of the 5% to 10.42% returns made accessible to users. Pillow keeps a small percentage of the spread generated, and another portion also goes into its yield reserves.