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Bitcoin Exchange Kraken Lands Multi-million Dollar Investment from Japanese Venture Capital Firm SBI

Op-ed - Bitcoin Exchange Kraken Lands Multi-million Dollar Investment from Japanese Venture Capital Firm SBI

Bitcoin exchange Kraken announced a multi-million dollar agreement with SBI Investment, one of Japan’s leading and most respected venture capital firms, to invest in and lead the Series B round of financing in Kraken.

SBI Investment is the venture capital arm of SBI Holdings, the world’s first Internet-based financial conglomerate. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SBI Investment is a unit of SBI Holdings, an Internet-based financial conglomerate with operating revenues of more than $2 billion in 2015 and operating income of around $570 million. The SBI Group consists of 208 companies operating in approximately 20 countries and regions, in sectors including financial services, asset management and biotechnology.

According to the company’s website, SBI Investment takes many factors into consideration, including market growth potential, uniqueness, differentiation from competitors and feasibility of business model.

A communication issued by SBI Holdings notes that Kraken has a high level of safety and has never been hacked since it has stringent security control measures in place. It has attained a position as a market leader, including the largest global market share in terms of the volume of Bitcoin transactions and liquidity in the European market.

“SBI’s investment means a lot to us,” said Kraken founder and CEO Jesse Powell. “We’re proud to have such a strong strategic partner leading our round. It’s a fantastic first step toward completing Series B, which will ultimately enable us to scale our business worldwide. Kraken will be prepared to meet the fast-increasing demands of an emerging ecosystem of blockchain-enabled assets.”

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, an industry insider noted that this announcement was particularly impressive given the “brutal” fundraising climate for bitcoin exchanges. Before this investment round, Kraken had raised $6.5 million from backers such as Hummingbird Ventures, Blockchain Capital and Digital Currency Group.

Founded in 2011, San Francisco-based Kraken was the first Bitcoin exchange to have trading price and volume displayed on the Bloomberg Terminal, and the first to pass a cryptographically verifiable proof-of-reserves audit. According to the company’s website, Kraken is trusted by hundreds of thousands of traders, the Tokyo government’s court-appointed trustee, and Germany’s Fidor Bank. In October 2014, Fidor Bank and Kraken partnered to create the world’s first cryptocurrency bank.

SiliconANGLE notes that the investment from SBI comes at a busy time from Kraken, following the announcement that it had acquired New York-based Bitcoin exchange Coinsetter Inc. and Canadian exchange Cavirtex in mid-January and the launch of new products in 2015, including a dark pool exchange service and a maker-taker fee model.

Buying Coinsetter is just one part of the equation in order to add volume, noted TechCrunch. Kraken also needs to make it easier to deposit U.S. dollars on the platform. The company is partnering with SynapsePay to allow USD deposits in 37 U.S. states and Washington D.C. for just $5.

“We knew that we wanted to invest in Bitcoin and the blockchain,” said SBI Holdings CEO Yoshitaka Kitao. “We wanted a company that would be a wise strategic investment. Kraken has been a leading global Bitcoin exchange for years. They have grown tremendously during that time while building a strong reputation as one of the most innovative, secure, compliant and reliable companies in this emerging financial services area. Kraken was the clear choice.“

Kraken now claims to be the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange by euro volume and transactions, and that in the last two years traders have made more than $1.4 billion in transactions on the platform while trading bitcoin and other digital assets in euros, U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, British pounds and Canadian dollars.

SBI notes that Kraken is developing blockchain-based financial infrastructure that permits reducing system costs significantly, and dramatically shortening payment processing times, which is attracting attention from the many financial institutions that need to process large volumes of data in short times. The investment represents a vote of confidence in the potential of both blockchain fintech and Kraken.

Photo via Kraken