I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: One of the biggest trends in crypto this year is companies raising money the old-fashioned way — through venture capitalists.
Hot on the heels of Binance raising money from Singapore’s Vertex Ventures, KuCoin, a relatively new crypto exchange, has pulled in $20 million. The money comes from two big-name investors — IDG Capital and Matrix Partners — and the venture capital arm of Chinese crypto organization Neo, and it’ll be used to expand KuCoin’s global reach, develop technology and launch an investment arm of its own.
We’ve confirmed that the deal is based on equity, not a sale of tokens as is often the case with crypto investments.
Binance took its investment as part of its plan to introduce a fiat currency exchange in Singapore, and likewise KuCoin — which relocated from Hong Kong to Singapore this year — is turning to investors to help advance its business by tapping into networks and connections.
The deal will “open new doors” for the company, KuCoin CEO Michael Gan told TechCrunch in an interview.
KuCoin started trading in September 2017 following an ICO that raised 5,500 Bitcoin, then worth around $27.5 million. Still, the company is unlikely to be short of money. The exchange business is the most lucrative perch in the crypto space and, while it hasn’t reached the size of Binance, KuCoin is ranked as the 49th largest exchange according to Coinmarketcap.com, which puts its daily trading at around $25 million.
Gan — who previously spent time with Alibaba’s Ant Financial affiliate — said that the capital will go toward hiring, both on new developers and doubling its 50-person support team. In particular, KuCoin is developing features for serious traders, including faster transactions, stop-loss features and more.
Decentralized exchanges — which remove the middleman to connect buyer and seller directly — are the big buzzword right now in the exchange world, with figures like Binance making progress on offerings. Gan said that KuCoin will need “a little more time” to develop its “Dex.” He declined to provide a time frame. KuCoin, he explained, is focused on ensuring that it will offer a quality user experience and on a stable platform.
Elsewhere, the firm said it plans to offer its service in more languages. It claims that it is working closely with regulators in Europe to gain a license to offer its services in the region, although the company did not comment on whether it plans to adhere to regulations in New York where authorities are investigating a number of other exchanges for doing business unlawfully.
First up, KuCoin aims to launch “communities” in Vietnam, Turkey, Italy, Russia and Spanish-speaking countries before the end of this year using online marketing and ads. It aims to grow its reach to 10 markets within the next six months while it is doubling down on in-house research to identify promising projects.
Linked to that last point, KuCoin is also getting into the investment game.
As I wrote earlier this year, cash-rich crypto companies are turning provider with investments in smaller organizations to build out platforms, establish relationships and more. Binance is perhaps the most notable mover — with a fund that it claims is worth $1 billion and an ambitious early-stage accelerator program. Gan confirmed the plan to launch a “VC arm” but he declined to detail its size or investment strategy at this point.
Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.