On Our Radar: Deals we are paying attention to for their impact on industry.
Boston-based IDG Capital has led a Series C funding round for the Japanese cryptocurrency Liquid.com, contributing an undisclosed amount that has propelled the five-year-old startup to unicorn status. It’s the second Japanese company to reach the status, a valuation of over $1 billion, and marks a major success for Japan’s growing crypto sector.
“Tokyo has emerged as a top destination for crypto innovation,” IDG general partner Young Guo said in a statement.
Beijing-based Bitcoin hardware manufacturer Bitmain Technologies also backed Liquid in the funding round, proceeds of which will go toward the development of products for the company’s core trading-exchange business, expansion into foreign markets and a new focus on security tokens. Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu said the company has been an “exemplary player,” in that it has adhered to Japan’s strict crypto regulations and compliance rules.
“This is a very important and unique moat amid global competition,” he noted.
Liquid, which is part of the Tokyo-based fintech company Quoine, operates the world’s most popular crypto-fiat trading platform with more than $50 billion in transaction volume between July 2017 and 2018. It had previously raised $20 million in venture funding and led an initial coin offering (ICO) of its QASH token.
Its planned expansion includes a service that will enable fintech companies to use distributed ledger technology to build products and services. On April 2, the firm rolled out Liquid Infinity, a contract-for-difference (CFD) service for traders speculating on the price movements of Bitcoin against the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen.
Cryptocurrency, which has fallen in and out of favor in recent months, saw a recent resurgence as Bitcoin prices soared this week. IDG Capital, the first firm to introduce foreign venture capital in China, has been investing in crypto since 2012, according to Guo.
Ambreen Ali is a freelance writer and editor based in the New York City area who specializes in business and technology. She has 15 years of reporting experience, including covering Capitol Hill and reporting from South Asia.