Nick Szabo, a cryptographer who worked on an early bitcoin prototype, played a key role in developing smart contracts and has been suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto, is now raising money for a bitcoin/blockchain startup, according to Quartz.
Szabo is trying to raise $3 million, according to unnamed sources and a pitch deck that Quartz reviewed. One source said Fenbushi Capital, a China-based venture capital firm that has invested in blockchain ventures, has already committed $1 million in seed capital for the startup.
A Crypto Pioneer
Szabo worked on DigiCash, an electronic currency that went bankrupt in 1998. A company called eCash Technologies acquired DigiCash, which in turn was acquired by InfoSpace in 2002, according to Investopedia.
Szabo was also instrumental in developing smart contracts, which are blockchain-based agreements that automatically execute. Financial institutions including UBS, Barclays and JP Morgan have investigated smart contracts as a way to automate back office functions and reduce costs.
Nathaniel Popper in May 2015 wrote in The New York Times that evidence indicated Szabo is Sastoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s mysterious founder, an assertion that Szabo denied. The matter has gained interest in recent weeks as Craig Wright, an Australian entrepreneur and engineer, claimed to be Nakamoto, a claim that many question.
A Recent Conference Talk
Szabo spoke at the D Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in October for the Bitcoin Investor Conference 2015, saying he wants to bring the power of bitcoin and the block chain to the world of traditional investments.
The fundraising effort in the past few months has focused on venture capital firms that have shown interest in bitcoin and blockchain.
The deck that Quartz reviewed indicated that the new company Szabo is part of includes Donald McIntyre, a former UBS and Morgan Stanley executive. McIntyre’s LinkedIn profile lists him as chief operating officer and co-founder of Global Financial Access.
Neither Szabo nor McIntyre commented on the matter to Quartz. Fenbushi Capital did not return an email seeking comment. (Fenbushi’s team includes Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, according to its website.)
A Focus On Smart Contracts
According to the deck, the company Szabo is involved with is described as focusing on smart contracts to develop financial products that mimic traditional assets like bonds, commodities and index funds. The company will create blockchain-based products mimicking the price of underlying assets such as German bunds, Treasury bonds, gold and S&P ETFs.
Buyers will be able to buy the assets with bitcoin. The company plans to have about $20 billion in assets by 2021, the deck indicates.
The company focuses on people from emerging markets seeking to buy financial products with bitcoin. The deck cites information on outflows from emerging markets as well as an opportunity to focus on Latin American markets initially to meet the need for stable, investable assets.