Elliptic Secures $5m Funding from Santander et al to Police Bitcoin

The round was led by an NSA-linked group and will empower banks and law enforcement agencies to monitor bitcoin transactions.
Photo: Bloomberg

Blockchain intelligence firm Elliptic just announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by Paladin Capital Group, with participation from Santander InnoVentures, KRW Schindler, Digital Currency Group, and existing investor, Octopus Ventures. Christopher Steed, Managing Director of Paladin Capital Group, will join Elliptic’s board of directors alongside Octopus Ventures, and Santander InnoVentures will join as a board observer.

American and European Bitcoin exchanges and payment processors have adopted Elliptic’s compliance and fraud detection technology, using it to assess risk on more than $2 billion in Bitcoin transactions. Elliptic has also provided law enforcement agencies in the US and Europe with actionable evidence on crimes involving international arms trafficking, drug sales, extortion, theft and money laundering.

The funding round was led by Paladin Capital Group, a private equity firm headquartered in Washington DC, focusing on disruptive technologies with security applications, which is headed by an ex-NSA (National Security Agency) director. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Kenneth Minihan, Managing Director at Paladin Capital, said: “Elliptic has demonstrated a powerful working product that can combat illicit activity on blockchains. Elliptic is a game-changer for blockchain and is already trusted by some of the smartest minds in law enforcement and compliance. We recognise that the firm’s monitoring capability will be an essential component of any blockchain in the future and we will help Elliptic to expand in the US, via our contacts and knowledge of US law enforcement and government agencies.”

Dr. James Smith, Elliptic, CEO
Dr. James Smith, Elliptic, CEO

Elliptic CEO and co-founder Dr. James Smith commented: “Over the last three years we have built a top-tier client base. Our products have already been used to assess risk on blockchain transactions worth billions of dollars, and we have delivered key evidence in major criminal investigations in the US and Europe. Our new investors bring deep expertise in law enforcement, international financial services, and blockchain technology and we are excited to work with them on our next phase of growth. We have already been able to expand operations to the US and will continue to extend our portfolio of products.”

Santander InnoVentures is the giant Spanish banking group’s fintech venture capital fund. “Distributed ledger technology, including blockchain, has huge potential to deliver cost savings and new ways of working across the global banking industry – but most blockchain applications today are still in the proof of concept stage,” said Mariano Belinky, Managing Partner of Santander InnoVentures. “For distributed ledger technology to achieve widespread use, compliance departments and regulators will demand independent monitoring capabilities to combat insider trading, fraud, and money laundering. Elliptic is an authority in this area. We are delighted to be working with the team to help realise the potential of this exciting new technology.”

Back in June 2015 Elliptic launched ‘The Bitcoin Big Bang’, an interactive visualisation that plots the emergence and interconnectivity of the key players in bitcoin since its genesis in 2009. The visualisation identifies more than 750 of the largest entities and the historical transactions between them. Illicit marketplaces and money laundering services are identified by name, while standard entities are described purely by their primary business to protect privacy.

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