Founded by former JPMC thought leader Blythe Masters, Digital Asset Holdings (DAH) has snapped up $50 million in funding in its latest round. The investment opportunity attracted a host of fairly well-known names in financial services, including Citi, Deutsche Börse and Santander InnoVentures.
All in, the round captured some level of investment from 13 firms that run the gamut when it comes to finance functions. Also participating: ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, JPMorgan Chase and PNC Financial Services Group; exchange operator fund CME Ventures; tech firms Accenture and Broadridge; and ICAP and Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC).
And Digital Asset took more than just investment from the round. Investor ASX also awarded DAH a contract to create a post-trade settlement system using distributed ledger tech. The Australian exchange operator is seeking a new system to provide clearing and settlement for the cash equities market that could replace the current CHESS clearing system.
"There has been very little innovation in the post-trade services that operate around the world for the better part of 20 years. Rather than replace CHESS with a new version that is based on the same legacy processes that operate in the market today, we should aim to re-engineer and simplify those processes to deliver significant benefits to the users of the market," noted Elmer Funke Kupper, ASX CEO.
"The initial phase of work is designed to bring the benefits to life and to test if distributed ledger technology can work at the scale of the Australian equity market. By building a solution alongside the existing CHESS system, all stakeholders can participate fully in the innovation process and have confidence in the clearing and settlement processes that underpin one of the top 10 equity markets in the world."
DAH's founding "mission" is to leverage distributed ledger technology to up the efficiency and drop the cost of functions in the financial services ecosystem, including security, compliance and settlement speed. There had been some talk at the end of 2015 that the firm was struggling to get funding together, but it seems that difficulty has been more than overcome, as Digital Assets emerged from this round far north of the $35 million that most experts thought it was seeking.
"Our strategic investors have come together from across the financial services industry to help drive global adoption of transformative solutions which enhance the vital services that they provide," Masters noted of the recent round.
Representatives from BNP Paribas, Deutsche Börse, JPMorgan and DTCC will join an expanded nine-member board.
"Distributed ledger technology has the potential to transform the way our industry does business, and we believe Digital Asset has the right talent and technology to make it a reality," said Sanoke Viswanathan, chief administrative officer of JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank and new Digital Asset board member.