Life.Sreda, the venture capital company focused on financial technology startups, aims to raise $100 million within the next two years to drive investment in the blockcain sector.
The fund plans to raise $50 million by the end of 2016 and an additional $50 million by the end of 2017. Life.Sreda has already invested $5 million.
The blockchain sector has been showing a rapid evolution over the last few months. The technology, which underpins bitcoin, is now attracting more interest than the virtual currency itself. The bitcoin and blockchain startups have already raised more than $1 billion from investors. Digital Asset Holdings, which was founded by Wall Street veteran Blythe Masters, boasts some leading banks among its investors.
Still, the sector remains less accessible to smaller banks. The new fund intends to urge middle-size banks as well as other financial organizations to provide financing, while it will deliver research support and consulting services.
“We will also provide the banks with research outputs and consulting based on the knowledge gathered from the firms we invest in,” Skinner said.
“The blockchain dialogue is pretty complicated. In financial services, there are five main areas of early use cases: smart contracts; digital identity; clearing and settlement; asset tracking; and supply chain finance and payments. There are at least 10 or 12 interesting companies in each of those high priority areas,” Skinner added.
Former employee at Western Union and Fidor Bank, Thomas Labenbacher, will serve as the fund’s managing director. The project’s other participants include David Brear, who will become a lead partner of the fund. He previously worked as a manager of Gartner, a company offering IT consulting services to help businesses improve their performance.
Life.Sreda is focused on investment in various fintech and internet projects. The company was established in Russia in 2012 but later moved its headquarters to Singapore. Life.Sreda’s investment portfolio includes such fintech startups as Moven, Knopka, Simple, SumUp, Fidor Russia and Anthemis Group. In 2014, it invested in Russian banking services provider, Rocketbank, which was described by Wired as one of the hottest startups of Europe in 2015.