Payments giant MasterCard has been named as one of 11 investors in Digital Currency Group’s (DCG) new funding round.
The undisclosed raise, announced today, attracted support from billion-dollar brands across multiple sectors including Canadian bank CIBC, insurer New York Life and TransAmerica Ventures, the VC fund owned by Aegon and TransAmerica.
It marks the first investment in the bitcoin and blockchain sector for all but four of the firms involved.
DCG founder and CEO Barry Silbert said in a statement:
“It is our mission to accelerate the development of a better financial system, and we’re excited to be doing it together with a fantastic group of visionaries.”
DCG was created earlier this year when Genesis Global Trading and Grayscale Investments – formerly under the SecondMarket umbrella – merged with Silbert’s seed fund, the Bitcoin Opportunity Corp (BOC).
Having backed 57 companies in 18 countries, the company has by far the largest early-stage investment portfolio in the sector.
Silbert – whose first company, SecondMarket, was acquired by NASDAQ Private Market last week – told CoinDesk DCG will invest in a further 10 to 20 companies in 2016.
In turn, his company is hoping to use its “unique position” in the industry to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, investors and – crucially – legacy institutions, who are seeking answers about blockchain technology’s disruptive potential.
Georg Schwegler, the CEO of TransAmerica Ventures, told CoinDesk his firm had joined DCG’s round to get a broad overview of goings on in the space.
“Instead of investing in single companies in that space, we wanted to have access to a larger ecosystem on a global basis,” he said.
Schwegler went on to describe the flexibility blockchain technology affords payment processes as “phenomenal”.
Silbert told CoinDesk the firms involved had expressed interest in following up with investments or collaborations in individual startups:
“For many of our new investors, this is their first investment in the bitcoin/blockchain space … A number intend to co-invest with us and many have already started conversations with our 57 companies regarding partnership and investing opportunities.”
TransAmerica’s Schwegler told CoinDesk that it’s interesting to see more and more financial incumbents recognise the potential of the blockchain:
“The encouraging part is that a lot of finance companies – banks and insurance – are becoming aware of the advantages of the technology finally.”
The funding news marks the latest in a line of announcements that speak to the growing legitimacy of blockchain technology in the traditional payments arena.
Last week, American Express was named as one of the investors backing Abra, the remittance app run on bitcoin’s blockchain, in its $12m Series A.
A month ago, Visa and Capital One backed Chain’s latest round of $30m, as did French telecom giant Orange SA, Nasdaq and Citi Ventures.