U.S. neobank Cogni today debuted its noncustodial wallet as it seeks to follow a flurry of fintech firms into web3.
Founded in 2018 out of the Barclays' accelerator program, Cogni initially aimed to build banking services for Gen Z and millennial users but has since pivoted into web3, following in the footsteps of other neobanks such as Revolut, N26 and Step.
Currently, Cogni's wallet acts as a shell that allows users to simply hold, send and receive crypto, but a forthcoming partnership with an as-yet-unnamed exchange will let users purchase crypto in-app.
"If you look at most of the digital banks right now [which provide crypto services], they go through an external provider and then the provider connects to an exchange," said founder Archie Ravishankar in an interview with The Block. This means that the average consumer using these neobanks to purchase crypto loses out, as fintech firms are forced to charge extra transaction fees.
Neobanks have so far largely sought to build out crypto investment tools via custodial solutions provided by third-party crypto service providers. Revolut has endeavored to launch its own standalone DeFi wallet app, but the product is yet to materialize.
"Cogni's wallet, which is integrated with a bank account, will connect directly to an exchange which allows us to provide institutional rates to regular customers," said Cogni's Ravishankar.
Unlike other fintech companies, Cogni's wallet is built alongside its preexisting banking services in the app. This means that users can view everyday transactions and bills — ticket purchases, grocery bills and paychecks — alongside on-chain transactions in one interface.
The startup is also looking to dive deeper into NFTs with an integration that will be rolled out after the wallet's launch today, said Ravishankar. There are plans in the pipeline to enable NFT-based profile pictures.
In April, Cogni raised a $23 million Series A led by Korean firm Hanwha Asset Management and CaplinFO. At the time, Ravishankar said the wallet will launch on Solana initially before expanding to other chains. Instead, the wallet will now launch from the outset as a multi-chain solution and look to expand into new layer-one networks such as Aptos in the coming months.
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