Momentum continues to build in the blockchain space with news that Blockstream just secured $55m in fresh funding to help accelerate the deployment and exploration of blockchain and bitcoin technology across different industries.
Horizons Ventures in Hong Kong and Digital Garage in Tokyo led the sizeable Series A round alongside AXA Ventures, the corporate investment outfit of the French insurance giant AXA. Existing backers AME Cloud Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Future/Perfect Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Mosaic Ventures and Seven Seas Venture Partners also participated.
While many most-commonly associate blockchain with the financial industry, the firm is working with partners including PwC to help drive innovation around smart contracts, open assets and crypto currency across sectors ranging from games to logistics. The firm is working to drive application of the technology at protocol level using sidechain technology. It says sidechains enable cross-chain functionality across private and public blockchains, which helps cut costs and reduce fragmentation.
“We want to power interoperable markets that are fair and accountable. Openness, accountability and public ledgers should be the norm and should not require users to sacrifice privacy,” says the firm. “We seek to empower users with trustable and secure financial mechanisms via public auditability of their transaction history without disclosing more than is necessary for the integrity of the blockchain.”
Last year the firm announced its first commercial sidechain offering, dubbed Liquid. It’s designed to act as an interchange settlement service for Bitcoin exchanges and brokerages. It’s also inked a partnership with PwC to work on accelerating the deployment of the technology in different industries such as logisitics, hospitality, gaming, telecoms and finance plus work on new blockchain applications.
This latest funding brings the company’s total funding to USD76m and follows its previous round at the end of 2014. Blockstream co-founder Austin Hill says in the blog post announcing the funding that they decided to bring forward the timing of their Series A, despite having half their seed funding still in the bank, to capitalise on booming interest around the technology.
“The growing interest in blockchain technology created an opportunity for us to ensure we have the resources to sustain what is sure to be a marathon and not a race, building an open source infrastructure to re-architect the very dynamics underpinning trust globally,” saids Hill.
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.