VIBRA, the Africa-focused cryptocurrency platform co-founded by Vincent Li, also a co-founder of the web3 accelerator Adaverse, has ceased operations in all three of its markets, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.
This decision to shut down was initially reported to affect only the Nigerian market. However, it has now been confirmed that VIBRA has closed its services in all three regions. Despite co-founder Vincent Li indicating a business pivot, credible sources, including former employees who resigned, have contradicted this claim.
In July, employees were given the ultimatum to resign or face termination, as they became aware of the company’s dire financial situation. The company had previously informed its users via email that services would be discontinued by July 15. While Vincent Li suggested that the discontinuation was exclusive to Nigerian users, Telegram group messages under “VIBRA Africa” indicated that the shutdown was not geographically limited.
VIBRA’s closure occurred a few weeks after another Asian-owned startup, Pillow, also ceased its operations in Africa. This decision was influenced by the ongoing bear market and the crash of the well-known crypto exchange FTX, which severely impacted web3 startups. VIBRA, which offered services for swapping, sending, receiving, saving, and spending cryptocurrencies, experienced declining user engagement.
The company’s website claimed to have over 100,000 agents in its three markets, but the exact number of users remained uncertain. A former employee mentioned that there were not many users and confirmed a significant drop in user activity, resulting in a decline in the startup’s transaction-based revenue.
VIBRA Faced Difficulties in Attracting New Adopters
Additionally, the company may have struggled to achieve substantial user turnover from its education initiatives. Despite raising $6 million to promote the mass adoption of digital assets and blockchain technologies in Africa, VIBRA faced difficulties in attracting new adopters.
The startup had introduced an education initiative called #VIBRAinClass, where experts could earn money by teaching Africans about blockchain. However, it seems that the general downturn in the crypto sector deterred potential users.
Furthermore, the incentive-driven customer acquisition model, typical of blockchain startups, proved to be expensive for VIBRA. A former employee noted that Nigerians are curious about cryptocurrency and eager to explore new avenues for earning money but have high expectations of crypto companies.
This challenging landscape, coupled with the costly promotion strategies employed by popular exchanges, contributed to VIBRA’s difficulties in sustaining its operations.