Reported by Nina Bambysheva, Michael del Castillo and Steven Ehrlich
The meteoric rise of bitcoin – from $10,000 since last year’s list to an all-time high of $65,000 this April – and other major cryptocurrencies over the past few months secured a record eight spots on this year’s Fintech 50 list for blockchain and cryptocurrency focused companies. The ensuing wave of institutional adoption also brought hordes of capital to crypto startups, giving birth to new crypto unicorns (companies with a $1 billion plus valuation) and signaling a ‘coming of age’ for the industry.
First-time members include crypto lending platform BlockFi, which scored a $350 million investment, the third largest venture round ever among crypto startups, in March at a whopping $3 billion valuation, and Paxos, a blockchain infrastructure company best known as the partner for PayPal
Other debutants include leading cryptocurrency custodians Anchorage and Fireblocks. As more corporations and institutional investors awoke to the crypto disruption and engaged in amassing sizable bitcoin positions, crypto custody services saw a massive spike in interest. In January, Anchorage became one of the first crypto-native firms to be granted a conditional national trust bank charter by the Comptroller of the Currency, while Fireblocks saw a 2023% growth over the previous year, having transferred over half a trillion dollars in digital assets since launch in 2019.
Amid the novel non-fungible token (NFT) frenzy, San-Francisco-based Alchemy emerged as a new breed of fintech leaders. Alchemy’s technology powers just about every major NFT platform, including OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, and NBA Top Shot, connecting users to the Ethereum blockchain, on which most non-fungible tokens, or digital collectibles, are built.
But the veterans are still going strong. Cryptocurrency investigation and compliance company Chainalysis, previously included in the 2018 and 2020 iterations of the Fintech 50 list, achieved a unicorn status in November after closing a $100 million Series C financing round. Chainalysis could be dubbed as “the guardian of crypto” as it is helping government agencies in 50 countries analyze blockchain data to investigate illicit transactions and ensure compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.
One notable graduate of the list is Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, which shook the industry and public markets with its April 14 Nasdaq debut – the largest direct listing in history. At one point during the opening day, Coinbase’s market cap exceeded $100 billion, setting a high bar for crypto startups still eyeing a public offering. Two of this year’s…