Chain, Inc., the leading provider of blockchain technology solutions to financial institutions, announced today that it has raised $30 million in equity funding from a syndicate of financial and payments industry leaders including Visa, Nasdaq, Citi Ventures, Capital One, Fiserv and Orange. Chain’s newest partners will also join the company in forming a Blockchain Working Group to explore the application of the technology in various markets and take a collaborative approach to interoperability. Former American Express CEO and RRE Ventures founder, Jim Robinson III, has joined the company’s board of directors.
“A blockchain is more than a financial technology – it’s a strategy,” said Adam Ludwin, Chain’s CEO. “Applied intelligently, blockchain networks fundamentally improve how assets move between parties, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the organizations we believe are best positioned to capitalize on the inevitable changes in market structure that are on the horizon.”
“Visa’s investment in Chain underscores our long-standing commitment to explore technology, like the blockchain, that could have the potential to advance secure and convenient digital payments for our clients and their customers,” said Jim McCarthy, executive vice president innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa.
A blockchain is a new model for transferring financial assets that substitutes third-party intermediaries with cryptographically secured networks. A blockchain enables asset holders in a market to transact peer-to-peer instantly and at low cost. These networks can facilitate the issuance and transfer of asset types as varied as financial securities, currencies, gift cards, mobile minutes, loyalty points and energy credits. Transactions are recorded automatically on the network’s shared ledger, providing increased transparency to asset issuers, owners and regulators. In addition, the use of cryptographic signatures reduces counterparty risk and prevents fraud, making blockchain-based transfer safer than any other alternative available today.
“Blockchain technology represents a fundamental, generational shift for financial services, and Chain’s platform is enabling and accelerating this transformation,” said Ramneek Gupta, Managing Director and Co-head of Global Venture Investing at Citi Ventures. “We hope to leverage Chain’s platform to rapidly test and develop applications as part of Citi’s multi-faceted blockchain strategy which has the potential to greatly enhance our customers’ experience well beyond just currencies and payments.”
The company, which launched just over a year ago, already works closely with several large institutions, including First Data and Nasdaq.
“Chain is collaborating closely with us to increase efficiency in the capital markets,” said Brad Peterson, Chief Information Officer, Nasdaq. “We see their platform helping us accelerate our time-to-market across our various blockchain initiatives. We are excited to further our partnership with them through Nasdaq’s investment in the company.”
Chain partners with leading institutions to design, deploy and operate blockchain networks that are built specifically for particular markets and assets. These private networks, which typically do not use bitcoin currency but are based on the same open protocols, can be interoperable with one another and other open digital currency networks.
“Blockchain technology presents a new opportunity to enhance the financial services experience,” said Fiserv CEO, Jeff Yabuki. “Our investment in Chain reflects our commitment to innovation in financial services, and we look forward to working collaboratively with the Chain management team to drive this important technology forward.”
Chain’s intuitive and secure software platform implements an open specification and includes a full suite of components to connect to and transact on a blockchain network as an issuer, asset holder or other market participant. The platform also includes development tools that enable companies to rapidly prototype in sandboxed environments. The company’s engineering team previously built software infrastructure at Salesforce.com and Microsoft.
“Chain provides a developer-centric technology platform that is as intuitive as it is powerful,” said Adam Boutin of Capital One Ventures. “As we have begun exploring the tremendous potential of blockchain technology, the Chain team has served as a great strategic thought partner, including co-hosting an internal hack-a-thon that produced 12 different solutions in 48 hours.”
Blockchain technology also creates opportunities for companies outside of financial services including, for instance, mobile operators who process a vast quantity of digital data every day.
“We believe in the disruptive potential of the blockchain. Becoming a key partner and investor in Chain will help us to learn faster and perform tests around this technology,” said Pierre Louette, Orange’s Deputy CEO. “We are seeking to carve out multiple use cases in our range of businesses to improve our services and propose new ones to our customers.”
Chain’s new strategic investors will form a Blockchain Working Group with the company whose bi-annual meetings will also include leading technologists, academics and researchers working on blockchain technology. In addition to learning from one another and from leading experts, the working group will be able to identify points of interoperability between these next-generation financial networks.
Existing Chain investors Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, Thrive Capital and SV Angel also participated and were joined by former Bank of America CEO, David Coulter, X PRIZE Foundation CEO, Peter Diamandis and MongoDB co-founder, Kevin Ryan.
Chain Inc. partners with leading financial institutions to build and deploy blockchain networks that enable seamless, programmatic and peer-to-peer transfer of digital assets. The platform, which is based on the open and interoperable bitcoin protocol, enables institutions to create, issue, store and transfer digital assets on private networks purpose-built for a given market. The company offers a range of solutions, from a development sandbox for rapid prototyping to secure network nodes for production systems. Chain is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. For more information please visit www.chain.com.