European cryptocurrency banking platform Bitwala, formerly known as Nuri, is coming back after ceasing operations and returning customer funds last year.
Bitwala is relaunching operations under its original name, in partnership with the support of the banking infrastructure company known as Striga, the firms said in a joint announcement to Cointelegraph on Nov. 8.
As part of the partnership, Striga is providing Bitwala with “Banking and Crypto-as-a-Service,” enabling the crypto banking app to draw on its trading and card-issuing functionality, Bitwala CEO Dennis Daiber said.
Bitwala, which rebranded as Nuri in 2021, filed for insolvency in August 2022, citing liquidity issues coming amid a massive crypto bear market that was triggered by the Terra crash. The firm eventually shut down operations in October 2022, asking its 500,000 users to withdraw their assets before the year-end deadline.
“We wanted to build a bank. We had all the documents, audits, applications and approvals — only thing missing was 50 million euro for liquidity coverage ratio and runway,” Daiber told Cointelegraph. He added:
“We had also hired ‘optimistically’ for the bank, at peak we had 250 employees. Unfortunately, in the midst of the fundraising process, Celsius, FTX, Terra/Luna and Ukraine “happened,” which caused all investors to refrain from investing. Thus, we ran out of money.”
According to the announcement, the Striga partnership solved one of the key challenges that Bitwala was facing by providing compliant digital assets and banking infrastructure out of the box, “without the need to handle any regulatory burden.” Founded in 2018, Striga provides financial services infrastructure for companies in crypto and banking. The firm is incorporated in Estonia and is a fully-owned subsidiary of Lastbit, which is incorporated in Delaware, the United States.
The Bitwala app is immediately accessible in 29 countries within the European Economic Area, allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) with the euro using Single Euro Payment Area transfers, the announcement notes. Future plans for the platform include integrating the Lightning Network and introducing a crypto-backed Visa debit card, all of which are being developed in collaboration with Striga.
The return of Bitwala marks a major milestone in the history of the firm, which has faced many challenges since it was founded in Germany in 2015. The firm is known for partnering with now-bankrupt crypto lender Celsius to offer annual interest on Bitcoin in 2020.
“Jan Goslicki, one of the original co-founders, and myself — I have known the founders since 2011 and jumped on board at Bitwala as Head of Trading in 2018 — are crypto-first, Bitcoin-minimalistic believers in the mission and vision of Bitcoin,” Bitwala CEO Daiber told Cointelegraph.
The exec stressed that Bitwala’s relaunched product is centered around the self-custodial Wallet, which provides 100% secure self-storage of users’ crypto. Daiber added:
“With this, we are going back to the roots of Bitwala 1.0 from 2015, shedding all ambitions to become a Bank or build an unnecessary complex business.”
The CEO noted that Bitwala will focus on enabling everyday usage of Bitcoin via on- and off-ramp as well as the Visa card, which will launch later this week.