Connect with us

Tech

‘PayPal for Crypto’ wannabe Ramp raises $52.7M Series A round led by Balderton Capital

Published

on

‘PayPal for Crypto’ wannabe Ramp raises $52.7M Series A round led by Balderton Capital

In the same way that PayPal and Stripe radically changed online payments by allowing any online service to embed payments, the race is on to have the same impact on crypto assets. To this end, players such as Wyre (raised $29.1M) and MoonPay (raised $555M) have risen to the fore. But in the Summer of this year, a similar, UK-based startup called Ramp (not to be confused with US ‘trad-fi’ startup Ramp) de-cloaked like a Klingon battleship in space, with a $10.1 million seed round, and even had hard-won approval from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under its belt.

The company is now clearly on a roll.

Ramp has now raised a $52.7 million Series A round led by Balderton Capital. Existing investors NFX, Galaxy Digital, Seedcamp, Firstminute Capital also participated, alongside angel investors including Taavet Hinrikus (Wise) and Francesco Simonesci (TrueLayer), and the investment will see Balderton’s General Partner, Rana Yared, join the Ramp board. The startup has now raised a total of $63 million.

Founded in 2017 by Szymon Sypniewicz (CEO) and Przemek Kowalczyk (CTO, CPO), Ramp has a non-custodial, full-stack payment infrastructure. The idea here is to open up digital assets to more businesses and users by making it possible to send or receive crypto without having to go through an exchange like Coinbase, for instance.

Ramp allows anyone that wants to offer crypto-enabled services to do so via its SDK in a few hours, without the need to set up their own on-ramping stack to an exchange, an extremely time-consuming and potentially costly business.

This is, of course, very advantageous to Ramp, because it forces users to move between Ramp-powered services without having to jump through multiple verification hoops. Faster for the users, but also great for Ramp.

In part because of this ease of use, it’s managed to partner up with more than 400 developers, including Mozilla, Browser, Dapper Labs, and DeFi apps like Aave, Argent, Trust Wallet, and Zerion. It is also the exclusive on-ramping partner for Sorare, the blockchain-based, global sports video game, and Flow, the blockchain which specializes in NFT marketplaces and digital assets.  

Furthermore, users of the Opera browser can top-up crypto wallets from within the app, or Sorare NFT game players can buy and sell virtual players via Ethereum. In addition, the NFT-based game Axie Infinity used Ramp to shorten its onboarding process from two hours to minutes.

The ultimate vision is to facilitate crypto transactions for banks’ or other financial institutions’ end-users within their banking apps. This would be where TradFi meets DeFi.

Ramp has also recently received regulatory approval from US FinCen – the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which enables the company to operate legally in the US. And in Poland, it has become the first on-ramping company to receive an open banking license from The Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) in 2020.

Szymon Sypniewicz, Ramp co-founder and CEO, said: “There is so much potential in unlocking cryptocurrency and digital assets beyond today’s narrow and restrictive use cases. We’re on a mission to provide instant access to cryptocurrencies through a provider they can trust.”  

On its competitive position against Wyre and MoonPay, a spokesperson said Ramp is focusing on transaction transparency and regulatory approval, hence the FCA and FinCen stuff: “While several competitors prefer to embed some of their fees in conversion rates, Ramp prides itself on showing its fees up-front so that consumers know exactly what they are paying for.”

Source: Tech

Tech

Baidu’s electric car brand Jidu closes $400M Series A round

Published

on

Once an industry with long development cycles, the automotive space is being upended by China’s tech giants. One can hardly keep up with all the new electric vehicle brands that come out of the country nowadays. Jidu, an electric carmaking company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely only a year ago, said Wednesday it has banked nearly $400 million in a Series A funding round.

The new injection, bankrolled by Baidu and Geely, which owns Volvo, is a boost to the $300 million initiation capital that Jidu closed last March. The proceeds will speed up Jidu’s R&D and mass production process and allow it to showcase its first concept “robocar” — which it classifies as an automotive robot rather than a car — at the Beijing auto show in April. The mass-produced version of the robocar will launch in 2023.

Jidu’s chief executive Xia Yiping previously headed the connected car unit of Fiat Chrysler in the APAC region and co-founded Mobike, the Chinese bike-sharing pioneer acquired by Meituan in 2018.

The rate at which Jidu has moved forward is remarkable but could easily attract skeptics who question its tech’s viability. The speedy cycle, the carmaker explained, is thanks to its strategy of using a simulated prototype car to develop its smart cockpit and autonomous driving systems, rather than testing individual hardware parts in a mass-produced vehicle.

The carmaker said in as short as nine months, it has “tested and proven” the safety and reliability of its Level 4 (autonomous driving without human interaction in most circumstances) capabilities for urban and highway roads.

The EV startup is also putting a big emphasis on branding and fan community, something its competitor Nio is known for. In December, it started recruiting car lovers to join its “Jidu Union” to geek out about cars at online and offline events.

Moving forward, Jidu will be hiring and training talent specializing in autonomous driving, smart cockpits, smart manufacturing and other related technologies.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

Resilience raises $45 million for its cancer care startup

Published

on

French startup Resilience announced yesterday that it has raised a $45 million (€40 million) Series A round led by Cathay Innovation. The startup wants to improve the treatment journey when you’re diagnosed with cancer so that you live a healthier and longer life.

In addition to Cathay Innovation, existing investor Singular is also participating. Other funds are joining the round, such as Exor Seeds, Picus Capital and Seaya Ventures. Finally some healthcare investors are rounding up the round — Fondation Santé Service, MACSF, Ramsay Santé and Vivalto Ventures.

I already profiled Resilience in March 2021 so I encourage you to read my previous article to learn more about the company. Co-founded by two serial entrepreneurs, Céline Lazorthes and Jonathan Benhamou, the company wants to help both patients and caregivers when it comes to cancer care.

On the patient side, Resilience helps you measure, understand and deal with the effects and side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Users can track various data points in the app and find content and information about their illness.

But Resilience isn’t just an app that you use at home. It is also a software-as-a-service solution for hospitals so that they can better personalize their treatments. Resilience has been founded in partnership with Gustave Roussy, one of the leading cancer research institutes in the world.

Practitioners will be able to take advantage of all the data that patients have gathered from the app. This way, cancer treatment facilities understand the patient better and can adapt their care more quickly. Resilience has acquired Betterise to gain a head start when it comes to data-driven cancer care.

The long-term vision is even more ambitious than that. If you talk with a caregiver working for a cancer treatment facility, they’ll tell you they never have enough time.

And it’s even more difficult to keep track of new treatments that are becoming more and more specialized. Resilience doesn’t want to replace doctors. But it wants to help them overcome blindspots.

The result should be better care for patients, as well as more support through the Resilience app. Cancer care is a long and painful process, so anything that can improve this process is a good thing.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Tech

PQShield raises $20M for its quantum-ready, future-proof cryptographic security solutions

Published

on

Quantum computing promises to unlock a new wave of processing power for the most complex calculations, but that could prove to be just as harmful as it is helpful: security specialists warn that malicious hackers will be able to use quantum machines to break through today’s standards in cryptography and encryption. Today, a startup called PQShield that is working on “future-proof” cryptographic products — software and hardware solutions that not only keep data secure today, but also secure in anticipation of a computationally more sophisticated tomorrow — is announcing some funding as it finds some significant traction for its approach.

The startup, spun out of the research labs at Oxford, has raised $20 million, a Series A that it will be using to continue its research and, in conjunction with partners and customers, product development. The startup is already staffed with an impressive number of PhDs and other researchers across the UK (its base remains in Oxford), the U.S., France and the Netherlands, but it will also be using the funds to recruit more talent to the team.

Addition, the investment firm founded by Lee Fixel, is leading this round with Oxford Science Enterprises (formerly known as OSI) and Crane also participating. The latter two are previous backers from PQShield’s $7 million seed round in 2020.

If machine learning is shaping up to be one of the more popular (and perhaps most obvious) applications for quantum computing, security is perhaps that theme’s most ominous leitmotif.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. identified the risks of using quantum computing for malicious security intent some eight years ago and has been receiving research submissions globally in search of coming up with some standards to counteract that threat. (PQShield is one of the contributors.) Based on signals from other government bodies like the Department of Homeland Security — coupled with a memo from the White House just earlier this month mandating that the government’s intelligence and defense services make the switch to “quantum-resistant” algorithms in 180 days — it looks like the standards process will be completed this year, getting the wheels in motion for companies that are building solutions to address all this.

“One memo can change everything,” PQShield’s CEO and founder Ali El Kaafarani said in an interview.

PQShield (the PQ stands for “post-quantum”) has been working with governments, OEMs and others that are part of the customer base for this technology — adopting it to secure their systems, or building components that will be going into products that will secure their data, or in some cases, both. Its customers includes both private and public organizations impacted by the threat. Bosch is one OEM name that it has disclosed, and El Kaafarani said more will be revealed when PQShield announces its first commercially available solutions. (Other sectors it’s working with include automotive OEM, industrial IoT, and technology consulting, it says.)

PQShield’s solutions, meanwhile, are currently coming in three formats. There is a system on a chip that is designed to sit on hardware like smartcards or processors. It also is making software by way of a cryptographic SDK that can be integrated into mobile and server apps and technologies used to process data or run security operations. And thirdly, in a new addition since it raised its seed round, it’s making a toolkit aimed at communications companies designed specifically to secure messaging services. This latter is perhaps the one that might most immediately touch the consumer market, which has been fertile ground for malicious hackers, and has increasingly become a focus for regulators and ordinary people concerned about how and where their data gets used.

All of these, El Kaafarani said, are designed to work together, or separately as needed by a would-be customer, with the key being that what it is building now can be used today, as well as in a quantum computing future.

The idea of a “quantum threat” might sound remote to most people, considering that we’re still some years away from quantum computing becoming a commercial, scalable industry, but the reality is that malicious hackers have been collecting data that will help them “solve” current cryptographic keys using those machines for years at this point. Some of this data has been publicly shown off, and much has not. All of this has been leading, El Kaafarani noted, to an “inflection point where people are now ready to think about the next phase of public key infrastructure,” which he summed up in layman’s terms as the difference between “math that is still easy to solve, and math that will still be very difficult to solve, even on a quantum computer,” due to particular combinations of math problems and aspects of complexity theory.

Quantum computing, even at its still largely nascent stage, has been fueling a lot of startup and big-tech activity. Atom Computing (which designs quantum computing systems) and Terra Quantum (building quantum-computing-as-a-service, given the likely high cost of these machines) each raised $60 million earlier this month. Intel, IBM and Amazon are among those that have making significant investments in quantum servers and processors for years now. There are others also working specifically on quantum security.

In that context, PQShield groundbreaking role in helping develop standards, and its existing network of customers and partners, spells a clear opportunity and promise for investors:

“Thanks to an industry-leading team, decades of combined experience and a best-in-class product offering, PQShield has quickly emerged as a front runner and true authority in post-quantum cryptography for hardware and software, a field with enormous market potential,” said Fixel in a statement. “PQShield is already helping to define the future of information security, and we are excited to support their ongoing growth.”

Source: Tech

Continue Reading

Trending