Venture capitalists including the prestigious Andreesen Horowitz and China’s Yuan Capital have invested $116m in the San Francisco-based 21 Inc.
The company, which has not yet released details of what it does to the public, has been shrouded in secrecy since it was created six years ago by a coder using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.
Co-founder and CEO Matthew Pauker enigmatically told the Wall Street Journal that there will be “several interesting developments over the next weeks and months” about software and hardware products designed “to drive mainstream adoption of bitcoin.”
The only hint that he gave to the company’s plans was to highlight the importance of chipmaker Qualcomm’s involvement, saying that 21 would make use of Qualcomm’s mass-marketing and production capabilities in order to create consumer products that can integrate with bitcoin’s “blockchain” technology.
Investors in 21 say that popular misconceptions mean that discussions of bitcoin have focussed on its potential as a digital alternative to mainstream currencies, but that this is only one small part of the picture. In fact, it has extensive application as a way of cutting costs in finance functions by removing middlemen.
Blockchain technology, meanwhile, form a publicly visible, decentralized and practically tamper-free ledger of transactions and could be used in the creation of anything from lawyer-free contracts to voting systems.
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