Blockchain technology startup Chain has raised $30 million in a round backed by financial heavyweights Visa, Nasdaq, Citi Ventures, Capital One Financial, Fiserv, as well as French telecom giant Orange.
The participation of Nasdaq is not much of a surprise. The world’s second largest stock exchange previously announced its partnering with Chain as it explores how blockchain technology can streamline the transfer of pre-IPO shares on its Private Market.
Also noteworthy is the participation of Visa, which itself revealed its interest in blockchain technology last month.
Around the time of its previous round of $9.5 million one year ago, Chain was more engaged with the Bitcoin blockchain’s underlying infrastructure, offering services to interact with the blockchain in real-time using its nodes and API. It was also exploring the concept of 0-confirmation transactions, which in theory, would make Bitcoin transactions near-instantaneous without the risk of double spending.
Chain now emphasizes smart contracts and increasing the efficiency of capital markets, touting its platform to “enable institutions to design, deploy, and operate blockchain networks that can power any type of asset in any market.”
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The Blockchain Bandwagon
Financial institutions are researching how Bitcoin’s blockchain or custom built blockchain systems can streamline the settlement of stocks, currencies and other instruments. By replacing legacy systems and processes, the technology can potentially yield billions of dollars in annual savings, increase transparency and reduce counterparty risk.
With their investment, one may assume that Capital One and Fiserv will now be testing the blockchain as well, if they haven’t done so already. The other financial heavyweight in the round, Citi Ventures, is already well-versed in the technology, as Citi has reportedly been testing it for years.
The round brings Chain’s total investment thus far to $43.7 million, making it one of the top-funded startups in the industry. It also has one of the highest concentrations of Wall Street backing, in contrast with its industry counterparts that have traditionally been backed more by Silicon Valley venture capital firms.
The funding is also a welcome reversal to what had appeared as waning investor interest in crypto ventures throughout the summer. August saw only two deals, totaling $9 million. The apparent trend of decreasing investment in bitcoin-as-a-currency has not been broken, however, as the Chain deal clearly falls into the blockchain tech category.
Also taking part in the round were RRE Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angel, Bank of America CEO David Coulter, X Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis and MongoDB co-founder Kevin Ryan. Former American Express CEO Jim Robinson III has joined its board.