22 Jan Funds Roll In for Start-Up Harnessing Bitcoin Tech
A well-known former JPMorgan Chase executive, Blythe Masters, has raised $52 million from several big banks for a start-up built on the technology underlying the Bitcoin virtual currency.
The start-up Digital Asset Holdings, based in New York, said on Thursday afternoon that it had raised the money from 13 financial institutions, including Ms. Masters’s former employer, JPMorgan, as well as Citi, BNP Paribas and Santander.
At the same time, the company also announced that it had signed a deal with Australia’s primary stock exchange, ASX, to provide technology that would speed up the settlement and transfer of money after stock trades. ASX Limited is also making a big investment in Digital Asset Holdings.
Digital Asset Holdings has based its technology on the blockchain concept that was introduced by the virtual currency Bitcoin. The blockchain is the database in which all transactions on the Bitcoin network are recorded. Unlike typical databases, the blockchain is maintained by users in a decentralized fashion. That has led many in the financial industry to hail it as a faster — and more reliable — alternative to existing transaction systems.
Many financial institutions have been looking at ways to use a blockchain to modernize financial transactions by cutting out various middlemen from the markets. The Nasdaq stock exchange has already integrated blockchain technology to improve stock trading.
Ms. Masters gave the technology a big boost when she announced her involvement with Digital Asset Holdings in early 2015. She left JPMorgan the previous year after a career during which she became one of the best-known figures in the financial industry.
Big questions remain, however, about how blockchain technology can be used in the real world, and so far talk of its potential has raced ahead of real-world uses.
In recent months, this disparity has caused some concern about the companies that are trying to raise money to build start-ups on the blockchain concept, including Digital Asset Holdings.