Blythe Masters' Digital Asset Raises $50M, Adds JPM Exec to Board

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Digital Asset Holdings, the blockchain technology startup led by Wall Street veteran Blythe Masters, has raised more than $50 million in funding and expanded its board, the company said Thursday.

Banking institutions have been looking to distributed-ledger startups like Digital Asset and its competitor, R3CEV, to experiment with and perhaps implement their technology. The idea of a shared ledger was a key innovation of bitcoin, although the industry's explorations have mostly avoided associating with the decentralized digital currency.

The new investors in Digital Asset are ABN AMRO, Accenture, ASX Limited, BNP Paribas, Broadridge Financial Solutions, Citi, CME Ventures, Deutsche Börse Group, ICAP, Masters' alma mater JPMorgan Chase, Santander InnoVentures, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. and PNC Financial Services. Digital Asset did not say when the round closed.

The company has also added four industry executives to its board of directors: DTCC president and CEO Mike Bodson; Sanoke Viswanathan, chief administrative officer of JPMorgan Chase's corporate and investment banking division; Ashwin Kumar, group head of product development at Deutsche Börse Group; and Catherine Flax, head of commodity derivatives and foreign exchange and local markets at the Americas division of BNP Paribas. There are now nine seats on the company's board; it plans to announce the ninth appointment shortly, it said.

The New York-based Digital Asset uses distributed ledgers to track and settle digital and mainstream financial assets, in an effort to minimize counterparty risk and reduce transaction settlement times. Bodson said Digital Asset provides an opportunity to address operational challenges and modernize infrastructure in the financial services industry.

"We look forward to working with our partners at Digital Asset to explore opportunities to improve upon the existing infrastructure in certain defined areas where automation is limited or non-existent and where the technology provides a clear benefit over existing processes," he said.

Digital Asset separately announced a partnership with ASX Limited, Australia's primary stock exchange, in which it will provide its solutions for the second phase of a trading platform technology overhaul the exchange announced almost one year ago. The first phase focuses on trading and risk management systems and runs through the end of the year. Digital Asset Holdings will then come in to help it with post-trade services in the cash equities market.

On Thursday R3CEV, whose bank consortium membership now totals 42, said it had successfully completed a test in which participants simulated an exchange, represented by tokenized assets on the distributed ledger.

Barclays, BMO Financial Group, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, TD Bank, UBS and Wells Fargo were among the banks involved in the test.

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