Meet the Kenyan Startup Trying to Change Bill Gates’ Mind on Bitcoin / Grace Caffyn (@GCaffyn) / July 23, 2015 at 22:45 BST

Last month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded bitcoin startup Bitsoko $100,000 to help troubleshoot Africa’s now-ubiquitous mobile money systems.

The news, which followed a long application process beginning last September, came as a surprise to the team of six, not least because Bill Gates has been publicly skeptical about the future of the payment technology in the developing world.

“They [the foundation] had not worked with any other bitcoin startups to our knowledge, so we were really not too sure if they would want to come on and us be their first,” Daniel Bloch, Bitsoko’s head of business development, told CoinDesk.

Through its Grand Challenges Explorations grant, now in its eighth year, the Gates Foundation has funded thousands of outside-the-box ideas seeking to tackle ‘unsolved problems’ in global health.

This year, for the first time, it’s branching out into nine initiatives around mobile money – a technology that, in little under a decade, has already seen rapid adoption among the world’s underbanked. While the $100,000 isn’t a seal of approval per se, it does indicate the foundation is willing to give bitcoin a try, Bloch said.