PayPal has invested in a blockchain company for the first time — one that’s focused on using the technology to help give users greater control over their digital identities, according to reports.
The company is called Cambridge Blockchain, and PayPal participated in a Series A funding round. The company has raised $3.5 million in equity from several different investors, which follows a previous $7 million, bringing the total to over $10 million raised so far.
“We made an investment in Cambridge Blockchain because it is applying blockchain for digital identity in a way that we believe could benefit financial services companies including PayPal. Our investment will allow us to explore potential collaborations to leverage blockchain technology,” a PayPal spokesperson said.
Despite the startup’s deep foray into identity control (the company joined other outfits, like Microsoft, IBM and Mastercard in a nonprofit called the Decentralized Identity Foundation), PayPal is going to focus on blockchain tech for its financial applications.
Cambridge Blockchain CEO Matthew Commons said PayPal has been involved in the company for about a year or so. Cambridge was part of an accelerator program sponsored by PayPal, and it’s also been working with LuxTrust in Luxembourg where PayPal had moved its European headquarters.
“We can’t talk specifically about anything commercially that we are doing because it’s all sort of exploratory now, but I think the fact that we are deployed in Luxembourg and (PayPal) have a major presence there also helped to get things moving,” Commons said.
Once the company started working directly with PayPal’s corporate venture group in San Jose, the investment was all but assured.
The company, based out of Massachusetts, shares and validates data using blockchain and can run on top of any type of distributed ledger, whether it be public or private. It has 15 employees based in offices in the United States, Paris and Beijing.