How American Express is ‘Testing the Waters’ of Bitcoin and the Blockchain

Harshul Sanghi

American Express, through its venture capital arm American Express Ventures, is looking to use its recent investment in bitcoin remittance startup Abra’s $12m Series A as a way to more closely observe the digital currency industry and the technology behind it.

AmEx Ventures managing partner Harshul Sanghi told CoinDesk in a recent interview that, for the 165-year old company, it’s too soon to predict how it might leverage the technology or what use cases might take shape.

“It’s very, very early days for us, right? And … we get to explore and see how the space is going to evolve,” he said.

In the meantime, AmEx will “test the waters” through its work with Abra, and in return, provide resources and advice to the startup.

Sanghi left the door open to support for bitcoin by American Express, stating:

“Let’s see what currencies are important and we’ll transact in the currencies that our customers want to transact in.”

However, he suggested other applications of the blockchain are more at the forefront of the company’s mind than bitcoin itself.

“As we watch the digital currency industry develop, we have seen that blockchain technology and the distributed ledger can play an important role in shaping the future,” said Sanghi.

He thinks AmEx may consider making other investments in the digital currency space, tying such a prospect to how the technology progresses.

“I think as the technology continues to evolve, as others have in the past, we will look to see and make investments as appropriate and as relevant for us and our businesses,” the partner said.

Sanghi went on to say the user experience of the Abra app was a draw for American Express, reiterating that the company’s investment gives it a platform to explore the technology further.

“We think they have a unique platform in the way they’re leveraging the blockchain technology, and their goal market and how they’re looking to move forward,” he said. “And we think it was a good investment, a good company to partner with and see how the space evolves.”

Image Source: Nadalina / Shutterstock.com

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