WalletConnect has raised $12.5 million in what it calls an "ecosystem round" from previous lead investors 1kx and Union Square Ventures, along with companies and projects such as Shopify, ConsenSys and Gnosis.
The startup's current core offering allows users to easily connect integrated crypto wallets — such as MetaMask, Rainbow and Argent — with decentralized applications via QR codes. Through this round, it's laying out more ambitious plans.
Rather than a desire for an increased runway in a bear market, the round is motivated by a desire to switch up its business model from a SaaS model — which motivated its Series A — to, instead, collaborate with investors on a decentralized communications network.
"We want to eventually decentralize fully into a token network," said founder and WalletConnect CEO Pedro Gomes. "We were researching and developing how this infrastructure might work and put together a wish list of people we believe are the best potential partners for it and that's how this round came together," they noted.
Raised via equity with an agreement for future token rights, Gomes describes this round as a warmup for those decentralization efforts with no lead investor. He sees full decentralization efforts coming in stages, with its partners first onboarded to the network and then full decentralization with a token following suit.
Web3 meets WhatsApp?
WalletConnect's decentralization efforts center around its plans to build a web3 communications protocol.
Along with providing easy interactions with decentralized applications, WalletConnect also aims to roll out the ability for wallets integrated with its network to build push notifications and wallet-to-wallet messaging. This means that, much like WhatsApp or Telegram, users may send messages and receive notifications via wallets.
Gomes sees this as a natural expansion for such decentralized wallets as they morph from financial vehicles to incorporating more social elements. Playing off the web2 concept of the super-app, users of integrated wallets would be able to send NFTs or crypto payment requests in-app, along with handling their decentralized finance transactions.
"What we see today with wallets is that you are able to store tokens, send tokens, swap tokens and interact with DeFi — but soon we'll see a reality where the user has full control over their internet assets through a single application," said Gomes. "Digital identity, push notifications and chat features will essentially turn the wallet into a much-more social component, rather than just a purely financial application" they added.
Gomes earmarked March 1 for a beta for WalletConnect Chat and a fully-fledged push notifications system.
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