Japanese banking giant Nomura has invested in London-based blockchain payments firm Fnality, according to an announcement from Fnality on Monday.
The financial services firm will also join Fnality’s international consortium of global banks, which are focused on building a regulated, peer-to-peer payments system based on digital assets.
Fnality already counted 16 major financial institutions as backers: Banco Santander, BNY Mellon, Barclays, CIBC, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Euroclear, ING, KBC Group, Lloyds Banking Group, Mizuho Financial Group, MUFG Bank, Nasdaq, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, State Street Corporation and UBS.
Formed in 2019 and initially known as Utility Settlement Coin (USC), Fnality aimed to create a network of wholesale blockchain-based payments systems denominated in five currencies: U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, euros, British pounds and yen. The tokenized currencies would be fully backed by fiat currency held by the relevant central bank.
In September 2020, Reuters reported that the project had faced delays in its bid for regulatory approval.
Fnality's fundraising attempts
The details of the investment from Nomura were not disclosed. However, Fnality plans to use the investment to expand its presence in capital markets across Europe, the U.S. and Japan, it said.
The Block recently reported that Fnality is seeking to raise £50 million ($53 million) in a Series B round, the same amount that it raised in a Series A round in June 2019 when Fnality formed as a commercial entity.
“Following on from its successful Series A investment round, Fnality is currently raising funding as part of an ongoing Series B investment round. Full details will be provided by Fnality upon the completion of the round,” a spokesperson for Fnality International told The Block at the time.
Nomura's crypto push
The news of Nomura’s backing comes as the investment bank launches a new crypto VC unit as part of its digital assets business. The unit is named Laser Venture Capital and will invest in startup categories like DeFi and blockchain infrastructure.
Laser Venture Capital is the first product to launch from Nomura's new digital assets business, which is known as Laser Digital. The bank is plotting two further launches, one focused on secondary trading and the other on investor products.
Steven Ashley and Jez Mohideen will run Nomura's Laser Digital crypto business as chairman and CEO, respectively. As part of the new role, Ashley has stepped down from his previous role as the bank's head of wholesale division.
“The transformation of financial services powered by blockchain technology is clearly accelerating, and we believe Fnality is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the significant opportunities brought by this evolution,” said Angel Issa, Nomura’s global head of corporate development and strategic investments, in today's announcement.
“We look forward to leveraging Fnality’s technology and expertise to continue delivering differentiated value to our clients and partners globally,” he added.
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