Bitcoin Investments Decrease, However, American Express Invests in Abra

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by Zhanna Lyasota · 3 min read
Bitcoin Investments Decrease, However, American Express Invests in Abra
Abra is the first global, peer-to-peer, cash money transfer app. It uses the Blockchain/Bitcoin technology for secure low cost transfers while protecting the value of deposits in U.S. Dollars. Photo: Abra

Even though investments in Bitcoin startups have recently decelerated, financial institutions like American Express are still getting more interested in the potential of BItcoin.

Being one of the core developers of the digital currency, Jeff Garzik has always been attracting the attention of venture capitalists, who have been eager to invest in all sorts of Bitcoin startups this year. However, the fundraising efforts have recently failed.

On October 13th, Garzik informed his customers and partners of placing his startup, Dunvegan Space Systems, in a “deep freeze” He messaged them that the company was “nowhere close to the necessary fundraising target,” so it halted all “space-related marketing and operations.” “Let’s look forward to the time when DSS is un-frozen, and we’re getting back to lofting satellites and drones into space,” he wrote.

After a vigorous start to 2015 that entailed venture capitalists kicking $373 million into bitcoin startups in the first half of the year, growth decelerated substantially in the third quarter. The $85 million in investments last quarter represents a relatively modest growth rate of 15 percent from a year earlier and a 41 percent drop from the previous quarter.

Barry Silbert considers that the total amount of venture capital invested in Bitcoin companies is expected to surpass $1 billion by the end of October.

BitPay, a bitcoin payment processor backed by Founders Fund and other venture firms, cut staff in September, affecting nearly 30 employees and contractors.

A big source of the hard times for Bitcoin startups is digital currency itself. The price of Bitcoin has decreased 9.5 percent since the beginning of this year. Bitcoin Investment Trust is down 35 percent since it listed in May.

On November 2nd, dozens of the most influential contributors to Bitcoin’s development will hold a meeting virtually on’s Web forums as part of an event designed to answer questions about the digital currency’s future.

However, the situation with Bitcoin does not seem so bad, since credit card companies and banks are getting more serious about the potential of Bitcoin, making an increasing number of investments in startups involved with the digital currency.

For instance, last week American Express participated in a $12 million Series A funding round for Abra, a service that makes it easier to send money between countries using blockchain technology.

“As people and businesses transact more globally, there’s a need for more convenient and affordable ways to move money, and we think the blockchain could play an important role in the evolution of money transfer and commerce, especially in emerging markets,” said Harshul Sanghi, Managing Partner, American Express Ventures. “We’re pleased to invest in Abra and to learn more and imagine new possibilities for blockchain technology.”

The move by AmEx — its first investment in the digital currency — underscores how traditional financial institutions are at least taking initial steps toward understanding and incorporating Bitcoin into some aspects of their business.

Furthermore, blockchain startup Chain raised a $30 million Series B round last month, with Visa, Nasdaq, and Citi taking part in the investment.

Another startup, R3CEV, has partnered with 22 of the biggest banks in the world, including Bank of America, Citi, BNY Mellon, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, BBVA, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan. R3CEV is focused on understanding the different uses of Bitcoin and blockchain in order to find the best applications for the technology in the banking world.

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