Bank Veterans Raise $1.5 Million for Digital Asset Startup
Digital asset trading service Crypto Facilities has announced a $1.5m seed round led by Pamir Gelenbe's AngelList syndicate.
Already operating with a license from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, the company plans to use the money to add new products and cryptocurencies to the site, grow its workforce and work more closely with US regulators.
Co-founder and CEO, Timo Schlaefer told CoinDesk:
"For us it’s really expanding the platform by adding additional products, assets, derivatives. Just giving people more tools to use. We are still relatively narrow with bitcoin futures, but we are looking to scale."
Over the coming six-to-nine months, Schlaefer said the London-based firm plans to hire a "handful" of new employees, mostly developers.
Currently, the firm is an Appointed Representative (AR) of Met Facilities LLP, authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, but doesn't serve US customers. The company also intends to spend some of the investment to work with both US and European regulators.
Launched last year, the company, founded by veterans of Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas, quickly made its mark in the industry. In February it partnered with Ripple to build an XRP derivative to go live later this month. The company also negotiated a deal with Chicago-based derivatives marketplace, CME Group to build two bitcoin price benchmarks designed to help manage the risk of bitcoin investments. CME is currently valued at $36bn.
It was that partnership, along with over $150m in bitcoin derivatives trades for private clients, investment banks and hedge funds that first attracted lead investor Pamir Gelenbe’s whose portfolio already includes the Kraken digital currency exchange.
A lot with a little
In conversation with CoinDesk, Gelenbe, who syndicated a group of about a dozen backers on AngelList to lead the investment, said it was Crypto Facilities' ability to accomplish so much without outside investment that first caught his attention.
But what finally convinced him to back startup was the passion of the founders and the relative size of the bitcoin derivatives market compared to traditional derivatives.
"In any mature derivatives market the trading of derivatives dwarfs compared to the trading of stocks," said Gelenbe. "We haven’t seen that yet happen in bitcoin, but we expect to see that in the future."
Until now Gelenbe says institutional investors have been shy about investing in bitcoin because of the “hassles of storage and security.” But as new opportunities arise, he expects that will change.
"Those people just want to be able to trade derivatives without having to hold the product."
The investment is part of a slow trend among bitcoin startups to attract institutional investors. Also in the works are multiple bitcoin ETFs, including SolidX, which in July initiated the process of listing on the New York Stock Exchange and the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust which is currently waiting on final approval from the Securities Exchange Commission.
Also participating in the round is Playfair Capital, String Ventures, hedge fund veteran Lee Robinson and Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk.