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Ripple-Backing SBI and Santander Fund Elliptic To Fuel Asian Expansion
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Ripple-Backing SBI and Santander Fund Elliptic To Fuel Asian Expansion

Cryptocurrency compliance company Elliptic has raised $23 million in a Series B funding round led by SBI Holdings, a Japanese financial institution which has been trialing an XRP-powered store settlement payments app.

Another major enterprise participator in this funding is Santander, a UK bank that claimed to be the first introduce blockchain technology for international payments, through Ripple, back in 2015.

Elliptic has said that it will be using the funding to drive blockchain adoption in Asia with new offices being opened in Japan and Singapore. Asia is being targeted in this case because it is reported revenue from clients based in Asia has increased 10-time over the past twelve months. 

Moreover, the funding will also be used to accelerate product development to support a new class of asset-backed cryptocurrencies. One of the key cryptocurrencies that Elliptic has in mind is Facebook’s Libra, but it is also looking at the growth and development of central bank digital currencies.

Elliptic’s core business involves the management of financial crime risk when dealing with cryptocurrencies where Elliptic screen billions of dollars in transactions to analyze them for links to illicit activity including money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions evasion, and other financial crimes. This is an important aspect in the legitimization of cryptocurrencies for enterprises and banks who want to be a part of blockchain and crypto, but not with its nefarious stigma. 

Blurring the lines

It is this new drive and adopting from major banks, enterprises, and even governments that are helping push the adoption of cryptocurrency into a more mainstream space. Additionally, these major players are investing in blockchain-based businesses, such as Elliptic, in order to make the nascent technology more applicable and legitimate. 

This funding is further evidence that the boundary between crypto-assets and traditional finance is blurring, with major financial institutions continuing to invest in this space. It is also a great endorsement of Elliptic and what it has achieved over the past six years in helping crypto businesses and financial institutions to engage with crypto assets in an increasingly regulated environment.

“Having the likes of SBI Holdings and Santander Innoventures on board is critical as we increasingly work with mainstream financial service businesses,” Dr. James Smith, CEO, and Co-Founder of Elliptic, told me. “Their expertise and guidance will be invaluable as we continue to expand our offerings to meet the needs of financial institutions.  

“The involvement of SBI Holdings and Santander Innoventures also provides further endorsement of our industry-leading compliance solutions, which are already used by financial institutions and crypto-asset businesses all over the world.”

“Most major financial institutions are actively exploring crypto-assets, with activities ranging from investments such as the one in Elliptic to offering crypto-asset services of their own. This is being driven by increased regulatory clarity, growing customer demand, and a realization that crypto-assets are nowhere to stay,” added Smith.

A burgeoning Asian market

The use of this funding is heavily predicated towards expanding into an Asian market which Elliptic has identified as a leading one. Of course, SBI Holding’s is a huge Japanese financial services giant and one that is actively pursuing blockchain and cryptocurrency advancements. 

Other than Ripple, SBI Remit started allowing nearly half a million customers send money to Africa using the bitcoin blockchain in September of last year in another example of the power of globalization that the blockchain can provide. 

“We have been working with customers in Asia for a number of years and have seen first-hand how vibrant their crypto-asset ecosystems are. For example, revenue from our clients in Asia alone has increased 11X over the past two years,” Smith explained.

“In Japan and Singapore in particular, regulators have set up clear crypto-asset regulatory frameworks, which have enabled crypto-asset businesses to operate with confidence. This has also led to traditional financial institutions beginning to engage with crypto-assets, and we will be working with them as they take their first steps into this new asset class.”

Blockchain pioneering backers

It is becoming far more common for major financial institutions to start to back and fund blockchain-based business. This instance of SBI and Santander looking to a service that can help ensure that cryptocurrency is “clean” shines a lot of light onto the thinking of these traditional enterprises. 

Santander prided itself on early adoption of Ripple and XRP back in 2015, identifying a niche for this emerging technology.

Sigga Sigurdardottir, Head of Customer and Innovation at Santander said: “The need for finance has evolved from providing a physical Pound in your pocket or card in your purse, where you pay at the till, to being seamlessly integrated into a new, always-on, connected lifestyle.”

“At Santander we work hard to ensure our banking is simple, personal and fair and believe new Blockchain technology will play a transformational role in the way we achieve our goals and better serve our customers, adding value by creating more choice and convenience.”

Additionally, SBI, along with its multitude of subsidiaries, is often in the cryptocurrency news for their advancements with the technology. 

Recent news has seen MorningStar Japan, a subsidiary of SBI Holdings, announced that it would offer its shareholders dividends in XRP, just last month. In the same month, it was also announced VC Trade — a crypto exchange founded by SBI Holdings last year had integrated an anti-money laundering (AML) compliance technology developed by Taiwanese digital currency hardware wallet company CoolBitX.

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