Blockchain technology has in recent times been attracting a significant amount of interest from large financial institutions and venture capitalist firms.
In September, 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.
Three months prior to that, Barclays entered a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) trial with bitcoin exchange Safello, in an attempt to see if blockchain technology can improve the financial services sector.
In fact, over $1 billion has been invested in Bitcoin and Blockchain related companies, according to CNN.
One of the biggest attractions of the technology is its inherent protection against fraud. Blockchain is essentially a live record log of every transaction, one which is stored on every single computer on the Blockchain network. It gets updated every few minutes with a new block of transactions that are stored on top of the old ones, meaning hacking in and tampering with the information is nigh on impossible. That is what the banks are interested in.
Last month, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center started working with some of America’s biggest companies to form the Blockchain Alliance, which looks to leverage blockchain technology in order to fightback against cyber criminals.
All this interest has continued to spread to the large investment firms like Kleiner Perkins, which has recently invested $12.5 million in Align Commerce, a payments company offering a “multi-rail” payments platform that combines blockchain, an encrypted, data-driven rail, with traditional bank wire and treasury management rails.
Align Commerce intends to make waves in the SMB cross-border payments market by, as it states, “taking back control of the payment process by routing transfers quickly, safely and simply on the rail that offers the greatest benefit to their business.”
Marwan Forzley, CEO of Align Commerce, said that the current system’s costs and complications have have hindered startups and SMBs from “fully capitalizing on global trade”.
He argues that the multi-rail platform will reduce costs, cut payment processing times and enhance the payment experience for the SMB community.
“This Series A round of funding from KPCB allows us to expand our solution into more markets, and bigger geographical coverage,” he added.
“The Align Commerce platform is not only a creative and transformative use of the blockchain technology, but a fundamental reimagining of how global payments can and should be done,” said KPCB general partner Randy Komisar, who is joining Align Commerce’s Board of Directors.
Funding Circle has perhaps started 2017 in a better way than most. The London-based lending platform that connects small businesses with investors has raised $100m (£82m) in equity investment.
IZettle, Square's European rival, has raised €60m ($63.4m) in new funding and has also appointed a new CFO, Maria Hedengren.
Monese, the mobile-only bank aimed at European customers who may struggle to open a bank account in the UK via traditional means, has raised $10m in Series A funding round.
A group of Chinese companies and state-owned businesses are partnering to create a new $1.5 billion fintech fund that will focus on mergers and acquisitions, and nurturing fintech enterprises in China.