by Joseph Young
Multi-billion dollar banks, major stock exchanges, tech giants and insurance companies have invested millions of dollars in bitcoin startups since the beginning of 2015.
The surging interest of banks in blockchain technology has led to the development of various blockchain labs, innovation centers and fintech accelerators, helping bitcoin startups to work side by side with banks and their engineers.
Over the past few months, American Express, MasterCard, Goldman Sachs, NASDAQ, the New York Life Insurance Company and other conglomerates have led a series of million-dollar funding rounds, raising total investments into bitcoin-related tech startups so far in 2015 to a record-breaking US$1 billion.
Since the beginning of the year, major banks and financial institutions including Spain’s Santander Bank and Goldman Sachs have actively looked into the blockchain technology, to bridge conventional banking systems and payment protocols with new generation transaction networks, such as bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Gradually, the surge of demand in blockchain-based services and bitcoin from international investors and tech corporations globally has greatly influenced the market cap and the price of the digital currency.
On November 4, the price of bitcoin peaked at US$500 in international exchange including Hong Kong-based bitcoin exchange Bitfinex, and its market cap has surpassed the US$6.9 billion market cap, forecasted to reach US$7 billion.
The rising trend of bitcoin has also boosted the mining industry in both China and the U.S. On Amazon.com, 5 out of 10 top-selling servers are ASIC bitcoin miners and 21 Inc Computers, showing the increasing interest of bitcoin enthusiasts and entrepreneurs in mining operations.
Balaji Srinivasan’s bitcoin startup 21 Inc has also led the largest funding round in the history of bitcoin, raising US$116 million from angel investors and prominent venture capital firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures and Yuan Capital.
Interestingly, emerging bitcoin startups such as 21 Inc in 2015 have attracted angel serial entrepreneurs from the tech industry including Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, who have all participated in multi-million dollar funding rounds over the past few months.
Bitcoin startups have raised US$1 billion so far, in 2015. Based on the rising trend of bitcoin and its mainstream presence, financial experts also expect to see an increase in venture capital funding throughout the end of the year.