Amun raises $4M to give stock-like buying options for crypto investors

Crypto represent a “border-less” asset that anyone can own, but actually getting hold of it isn’t easy for everyone. Amun, a company that wants to make buying crypto as easy as stock, has pulled in $4 million in funding to offer more established channels for crypto ownership.

The startup currently offers punters an ETP (exchange-traded product) on the Swiss Stock Exchange that pulls together five of the most popular crypto assets: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, XRP and Litecoin. HODL — as it is called after “holding” crypto rather than selling it (LOL) — can be purchased just like any stock.

That five-crypto basket is just the start for Amun, which is developing ETPs for other crypto assets individually. The first one is for Bitcoin — ABTC — with others planned to come soon; you’d imagine the usual suspects such as Ethereum and co will follow. Indeed, Amun has licenses to the five crypto assets in HODL as well as EOS.

While the products are ETP and not covered by Collective Investment Schemes Act (CISA), they are protected in custody and by insurance. They are collateralized and backed by an identical amount of crypto assets.

Personally, I’ve been able to buy crypto — just base tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum rather than company-specific ICO tokens — but it certainly is true that it takes some learning. While, speaking for me and likely many others, exchange-based products aren’t easier to me, it does appeal to more institutionally minded individuals or companies for whom holding an account with an exchange or a crypto wallet isn’t feasible. That’s the target that Amun has in mind, as well as outlier cases, too.

Amun CEO and co-founder Hany Rashwan told TechCrunch that growing up in Egypt, he saw the government ban Bitcoin despite the fact that it offered an alternative to the Egyptian pound, which saw its valuation tank massively in 2016. He believes that products like Amun allow anyone to take part in crypto even when they face local restrictions, as was the case in Egypt and other countries.

“We want to make investing in crypto as easy as buying a stock. Institutional investors around the world are looking for a secure, easy and regulated way of accessing the crypto asset class. Amun’s products do that at a low price in one of the most reputable financial hubs in the world,” Rashwan told TechCrunch.

Investors share his optimism and those who took part in this round include Boost VC founder Adam Draper — son of outspoken pro-Bitcoin VC Tim Draper — Graham Tuckwell, founder of ETFS Capital who built ETF products for gold, and Greg Kidd, co-founder of investment firm Hard Yaka. Four undisclosed family offices also took part.

One reason for their optimism is the fact that Amun is developing technology that could, in theory, be licensed out to allow others to develop their own ETFs.

“We invest a ton of resources in both our product development and underlying tech infrastructure. This allows us to come up with innovative but professional and safe ways of accessing the crypto asset class, as well as do all this on a tech platform that can be used by not just us, but any issuer that wishes to do the same as well,” Rashwan said.

“The world needs a company like Amun to make crypto as easy as buying a stock. Now that they were the first to do that, they can now provide the toolset and be the de facto platform for anyone else looking to take their crypto assets/securities to the public markets,” Draper added.

Still, just giving people access doesn’t guarantee returns — that’s on the crypto market itself.

Last year was a dud across the board in terms of pricing, as Bitcoin, for example, plummeted from a record high of nearly $20,000 at the end of 2017 to $3,930-ish at the time of writing. Plenty in the industry are optimistic that will change as genuine value comes out of blockchain technology.

HODL itself debuted at $15.64 last November; today it is at $12.83

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.