This summer continued the consistent trend of huge investments being made in FinTech companies. TransferWise kicked 2015 off with a huge investment of $58m and this year’s warmer months saw the likes of iZettle and Currency Cloud secure huge investment rounds of $67m and $18m respectively.
As we approach the end of the year and the mid-point of September, data suggests that investing attention has turned away from mainstream payment methods towards companies offering alternative ways of paying. In mind of that, here are five Bitcoin companies that have secured the biggest investments of September so far.
1. Chain – $30m
Chain, a San Francisco-based startup specialising in blockchain technology, has received $30m from a funding round that includes some of the world’s largest financial corporations, including Visa, Citi Ventures and Nasdaq.
According to Adam Ludwin, CEO and co-founder of Chain, using ‘‘open source protocols which extend bitcoin, we can send any type of value the same way: stocks, reward points, prepaid minutes, stored value cards, dollars, etc.’’
The funding round also included Capital One, Fiserv and French telecommunications firm Orange among others. They are all hoping that blockchain, the ledger that underpins bitcoin, will transform how the sector processes a range of financial transactions.
2. Abra – $12m
Abra, a payments startup based in Silicon Valley, has raised $12m in venture financing during its Series A funding round. Leveraging blockchain technology.
Using the Abra app, consumers can then transfer money to another smartphone user through Abra’s network of ‘human ATMs’. Dubbed Abra Tellers, these workers earn money by purchasing and transferring digital cash to and from any consumer via the Abra App. Currently, consumers and tellers have pre-registered for the app in over 80 locations.
Jim Robinson, RRE Ventures managing partner and Abra co-founder, believes that by leveraging blockchain technology, Abra can mount a serious challenge to financial institutions in the payments space.
‘‘It’s not about Bitcoin for the sake of Bitcoin – it’s about how the technology can solve problems for consumers worldwide, even if they don’t know what the Blockchain is,” he said.
3. Case – $2.3m
Case is a multi-signature hardware bitcoin wallet that is GSM-enabled and biometrically protected for securing digital assets. On 10th September the company announced that it raised $2.3m in seed funding led by Future Perfect Ventures.
Case’s biometric capabilities differentiate it from other hardware bitcoin wallets such as Trezor, Ledger or KeepKey.
For a transaction to take place the multi-factor wallet that requires two out of three keys. Each key is generated and stored in a different location and protected by a different authentication factor.
The company’s CEO, Melanie Shapiro, said the funding will be used to move ahead of other competitors by focussing on the needs of both the consumers and Bitcoin and blockchain firms.
4. ShapeShift – $1.6m
ShapeShift is a digital currency exchange platform that immediately converts digital assets for example from Bitcoin to Nucoin or from Nucoin to Litecoin. Last week, the company raised $1.6m in seed in a round led by Digital Currency Group.
Other investors included the executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation Bruce Fenton, the CEO and founder of Transform PR Michael Terpin.
“It took a little coaxing as many Bitcoiner-investors aren’t sold on the concept of other cryptocurrencies. Key to our raise, however, was the ability to demonstrate that tomorrow will be full of digital assets, of all different kinds, and such a future demands a frictionless exchange engine,” ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees told CoinDesk.
ShapeShift and its CEO were in the news this year after they became one of the first companies to stop serving customers in New York following the development and implementation of the BitLicense digital currency framework, which requires Bitcoin innovators to apply for a licence – a process that involves a background check and fingerprint scan.
5. Coinalytics – $1.1m
The company that describes itself as a provider of “real-time intelligence for decentralized blockchain platforms” has raised $1.1m as part of a seed round led by incubator The Hive.
It’s a graduate of the 500 Startups incubator that focuses on Bitcoin and financial technologies. The company originally actually intended to use its data analysis service to cater to bitcoin traders. However, they quickly realised there was a huge demand for blockchain services more broadly and decided to focus solely on that.
Coinalytics says its data infrastructure is designed to be easily scalable and work with decentralized networks of any size.
Metromile has just landed nearly $200m in Series D funding for its auto insurance payments platform.
London fintech startup Curve has picked up another $3m in funding to replace all the different payment cards in your wallet with just one.
Signifyd, the company that provides fraud protection for e-commerce businesses, has raised $19m in a funding round with investors including American Express Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Triple Point Capital.
Fintech will be a key focus for Spotify and iZettle-backer Northzone as it announces a brand new €300m venture capital fund to invest in early-stage European startups.