One of the early pioneers of bitcoin and blockchain is raising money to fund a financial startup based on the virtual currency.
Nick Szabo, a cryptographer who worked on an early bitcoin prototype called DigiCash, is in talks to raise $3 million, according to sources and a pitch deck reviewed by Quartz.
According to a person familiar with the effort, $1 million of the seed round has already been committed by Fenbushi Capital, a China-based venture capital firm focused on blockchain investments. Over the past few months, the fundraising effort has been aimed at venture capital firms focused on bitcoin and blockchain.
Szabo is perhaps best known as the father of “smart contracts,” blockchain-based agreements that execute automatically. The technology has recently attracted the attention of large financial institutions like JPMorgan, UBS, and Barclays, as a way to automate traditional back office processes and cut costs.
Szabo has even periodically been thought to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious individual who is credited with creating bitcoin. In May 2015, the New York Times’ Nathaniel Popper wrote that evidence pointed to Szabo being Nakamoto. Szabo denied this to Popper. In recent weeks, Australian software engineer and entrepreneur Craig Wright stepped forward, declaring that he is Nakamoto, though many in the bitcoin community remain skeptical of Wright’s claims.
Joining Szabo in the new company—the reviewed portion of the deck does not clearly lay out what it will be called—is Donald McIntyre, an entrepreneur and former executive at Morgan Stanley and UBS. McIntyre’s LinkedIn profile lists him as cofounder and COO of Global Financial Access, Inc. (The opening slide of the deck says simply, “Access”.)
“Our purpose is to help people everywhere access assets issued anywhere in the world,” McIntyre’s LinkedIn profile says of Global Financial Access.
Neither McIntyre nor Szabo offered a comment, after being contacted by Quartz. Fenbushi did return an email asking for comment.
According to the description of the company included in the pitch deck, the new company will be focused using smart contracts on the blockchain to create financial products that mimic traditional assets such as equity index funds, bonds and commodities. The deck suggests the company could create blockchain-based products that mimic the price of underlying assets like Treasury bonds, German bunds, gold and SP 500 ETFs. Buyers would be able to purchase the blockchain assets using bitcoin. The firm is aiming to have roughly $20 billion in assets under management by 2021, according to the deck.
The company appears aimed at catering to people from emerging markets interested in buying financial products using bitcoin. The deck prominently cites data on outflows from emerging markets as well as an “opportunity to focus initially on Latin American markets to satisfy need for stable investable assets.”