MasterCard is backing Barry Silbert’s newest initiative, Digital Currency Group, his first since selling SecondMarket to Nasdaq last week. Many believe this marks a major development in the Bitcoin space as the digital currency flirts with the $300 level.
Silbert has gained the support of big-time backers for the new conglomerate focused exclusively on Bitcoin and other block chain technologies.
The new company, Digital Currency Group (DCG), will include Silbert’s over-the-counter Bitcoin trading firm, Genesis Global Trading, as well as Grayscale Investments, a digital currency asset management firm.
Digital Currency Group will be home to 57 seed-stage investments already made by Silbert and his team, including Chain, Circle, Coinbase, Ripple and Xapo. Other companies backed by DCG includes Ascribe, and ShoCard.
“What we’re building is the largest early-stage investment portfolio in the digital currency and blockchain ecosystem,” Silbert elucidated “We’re also going to start high-growth businesses of our own, and develop a global platform and network to support our companies.” Silbert structured DGC as a company in order to one day go public.
Investors such as MasterCard join Bain Capital; Ventures, CIBC, CME Ventures, FirstMark Capital, New York Life, Novel TMT, Oak HC/FT, RRE Ventures, Solon Mack Capital and Transamerica Ventures.
“We’re still far away from bitcoin being a functional currency, and I don’t think we’ve gotten closer lately,” Silbert claims. “First it’s going to function as a speculative investment that will drive up the price and create a larger monetary base that will draw in Wall Street to trade it. Then more merchants will come on board. As it gets more liquid, as a [payment] rail it will become a real alternative to the existing money transfer systems in the world today. I really believe that’s what will happen, and I want DGC to be a big part of it.”
Silbert has been laying the groundwork for DCG for awhile. In March 2014, he tweeted: "Requests from 38 institutional investors representing +$250 billion to meet with me re bitcoin at Barclays Emerging Payments Forum tomorrow." Silbert has been a part of the Bitcoin space for several years, even bidding on Silk Road funds sold by the US federal government. Silbert spoke today at Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas to explain the developments.
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