LONDON (Reuters) - Blockchain technology firm ConsenSys said on Wednesday it had raised $200 million, at a valuation of $3.2 billion, from investors including HSBC and U.S. hedge fund Third Point.
Blockchain emerged over a decade ago as the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Since then, investors have poured millions of dollars into the technology and related companies, believing it will transform industries from finance to commerce.
New York-based ConsenSys is a prominent startup whose CEO and founder Joe Lubin also helped found the ether cryptocurrency.
Its products include MetaMask, an app and web browser extension that lets users hold and manage digital tokens, and connect with other blockchain-based applications. MetaMask monthly active users total 21 million, an 38-fold increase from last year, ConsenSys said.
Such technology is widely seen as taking centre stage in the so-called “Web3” - an emerging iteration of the internet where blockchain-based “decentralised” apps and cryptocurrencies are widely used.
In Web3, supporters say, individuals will have greater control over data and will be less beholden to Big Tech.
“ConsenSys’ MetaMask wallet and other tools offer a unique platform for consumers, enterprises, and developers to engage, build, and create on the decentralized web,” said Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb.
Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin, is widely seen as a key part of Web3 as many apps are built on the ethereum blockchain. Bets on ether’s mainstream use pushed it to an all-time high of almost $4,870 this month.
Still, many larger investors remain wary of direct investment due to the volatility of cryptocurrencies, with some investing instead in related infrastructure.
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, said earlier this year it had no plans to launch a crypto trading desk or offer the asset to customers - a move that contrasted with an embrace of the tech by rivals such as Goldman Sachs.
Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise