Cryptocurrency startup MoonPay reaches a valuation of US$3.4 billion in a new round of financing

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MoonPay CEO and co-founder Ivan Soto-Wright speaks at the 2021 Bitcoin Conference in Miami, Florida.

Eva Marie Uzcateji | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Cryptocurrency startups raised record funding this year.

As a result, some of the major players in the field-from the Winklevoss twin virtual currency exchange Gemini to the Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin’s blockchain startup ConsenSys-announced a large-scale new financing transaction last week. Not surprising.

MoonPay is a relatively new person who is pushing the crypto craze in venture capital to new heights. The three-year-old fintech company said on Monday that it has raised $555 million in its first round of financing. The investment led by Tiger Global and Coatue valued the company at $3.4 billion.

The Miami-based MoonPay software was established in 2018, allowing users to use traditional payment methods such as credit cards, bank transfers, or mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

It also sells its technology to other companies, including the crypto website and the non-fungible token (NFT) market OpenSea, which a model CEO Ivan Soto-Wright calls “cryptography as a service.”

Soto-Wright said that the company’s goal is to make cryptocurrency available to the public, just as video conferencing tools such as Zoom make it easier to make calls over the Internet.

“For blockchain and cryptocurrency, I think we are still in the dial-up era,” he told CNBC in an interview.

“Ultimately, we will reach a place where the value of moving any quantity anywhere in the world is frictionless, and the cost will be as close to zero as possible.”

‘PayPal encryption’

As the prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have recently hit record highs, venture capital investment in startups that drive the market is booming. After the cryptocurrency exchange giant went public in April, investors are looking for the next Coinbase.

MoonPay’s promotion to investors is that it provides a “gateway” for digital assets. Currently, this includes other digital tokens such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and NFT. But Soto-Wright’s vision is to expand the platform to cover everything from digital fashion to tokenized stocks.

“People call us similar to PayPal, but for cryptocurrency,” he said.

Soto-Wright said the company has strong controls and inspections to deal with money laundering issues. Regulators are becoming more and more vigilant about illegal activities in the market.

MoonPay stated that it has been profitable since the launch of its platform in 2019. After the transaction volume has soared 35 times from 2020, the company’s annual revenue this year is expected to reach 150 million US dollars. Its services are now used by more than 7 million customers.

Despite this, the company still faces fierce competition, especially from financial technology pioneers such as PayPal, which launched its own encryption function last year.

Soto-Wright said he is not worried about competition. He described PayPal as a “walled garden” where users cannot control their assets. “We believe that the future of cryptocurrency is about customers owning their private keys,” the passwords that allow people to access their funds, he said.

IPO ambitions

Looking ahead, MoonPay plans to use the funds raised for new products and expansion. Soto-Wright said the company already has ambitions to go public. “We hope to eventually become a listed company,” he said.

However, as we all know, the volatility of cryptocurrencies is very high, which affects even the most well-known participants in the field. For example, Coinbase’s sales in the third quarter were lower than expected after a decline in monthly users.

Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $69,000 earlier this month, but has since fallen by about 17%. At the same time, Ether fell 13% from its historical high.

Soto-Wright stated that MoonPay is prepared for a potential downturn in the crypto market, adding that the company is “agnostic” to the assets it supports.

“Just as telecommunications is disrupted by Voice over IP (Internet Protocol), we believe that financial services and all these different applications will be disrupted by the blockchain over time,” he said.

“As the market tries to discover which assets and which blockchains will eventually be adopted, there will obviously be volatility.”

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