Bitcoin-related technology purveyor Blockstream has landed $210 million in Series B financing that, according to the company, puts its valuation at $3.2 billion.
The funding round was led by Baillie Gifford and iFinex, which operates Bitfinex, according to an announcement.
“The new capital will go towards accelerating our Bitcoin mining efforts and the acquisition of Spondoolies to launch an enterprise-grade miner, continuing to scale Bitcoin’s first and most robust sidechain (the Liquid Network), and expanding our team,” Blockstream said in the announcement.
Baillie Gifford’s Allen Farrington will join Blockstream’s board “as an observer,” the announcement states.
Farrington has been associated with Liquid Network, a bitcoin sidechain that lets users benefit from some aspects of bitcoin without having to play by all its rules.
“The Liquid Network enables Bitcoin traders to achieve faster, more private settlements, and enjoy many other technological innovations, in exchange for working within a different security model,” three Blockstream scientists wrote in a May 2020 paper.
“Bitcoin-based development and Blockstream’s asset issuance and management platforms can contribute to meaningfully decentralizing financial infrastructure, democratizing control over investment products, and firmly embedding openness and programmability in capital markets,” Farrington said in a prepared statement distributed by Blockstream. “I look forward to working closely with Blockstream to make this a reality.”
Blockstream raised $21 million in seed funding in 2014.
El Salvador Plans Bitcoin ATMs
The government of El Salvador is preparing to launch what the country’s government says will be a network of 200 ATMs that will allow the conversion of bitcoin to U.S. dollars without any fees, President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.
Bukele wrote: “There will also be [digital wallet ATMs] everywhere and you can withdraw in CASH, 24 hours a day and WITHOUT COMMISSIONS, even if the opposition says otherwise.”
The move will save the country’s citizens $400 million in remittance fees associated with the transmission of money from expatriots to citizens or friends at home, according to the government, which is allocating $150 million to fund the process of converting bitcoin to U.S. dollars.
El Salvador’s government is also planning to launch a digital wallet called Chivo, reports said. Use of the wallet will be optional and the wallet will let users conduct transactions in U.S. dollars or bitcoin anywhere in the world.
In 2020, according to the World Bank, personal remittances received in El Salvador totaled $5.94 billion. The World Bank reported in May 2021 that the effect of COVID-19 on remittance flow around the world varied by region and the flow of funds into Central America increased as the pandemic took hold even though it decreased during the last major worldwide disruption, the 2008 financial crisis.
Globally, the average cost of sending $200 in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the World Bank, was 6.5 percent of funds transmitted.