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Blockchain security startup CoolBitX raises $16.7M Series B led by SBI Holdings


CoolBitX, a blockchain security startup headquartered in Taiwan, announced this week that it has raised $16.7M in Series B round of funding. It’s spearheaded by returning investor SBI Holdings (a Japanese financial group formerly known as Softbank Investment), with participation from the National Development Fund of Taiwan, Japanese financial firm Monex, and Korean crypto exchange BitSonic.

With this new funding, the company plans to expand Sygna’s presence beyond the APAC region as the first-to-market FATF compliant solution for virtual asset service providers around the world. It also seeks to continue innovating its bluetooth-enabled hardware wallet CoolWallet S, the flagship product with a focus on security, functionality, and usability, according to its press release.

Last June, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an independent intergovernmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system from money laundering and terrorist financing, released a new guidance governing virtual assets (VAs) and virtual asset service providers (VASPs), which applies the FATF Recommendation 16 to VA transfers.

To “prevent terrorists and other criminals from having unfettered access to wire transfers for moving their funds” and to detect such misuse when it occurs, financial institutions, including crypto exchanges, are required to collect personal data of both the originator and the beneficiary of any given payment.

CoolBitX then launched Sygna Bridge, a messaging-based know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) solution, in October — to enable VASPs to easily share the data in compliance with the FATF framework.

The startup has signed a memorandum of understanding with 12 exchanges that are currently using or testing the service, including Japan-based VC Trade (owned by SBI Holdings), Korea-based BitSonic, Taiwan-based MaiCoin, and so on.

“Sygna’s progress has been in line with our strides made in crypto KYC/AML in various Asian jurisdictions, especially Japan,” said Founder and CEO Michael Ou. “As such, CoolBitX will be establishing a Sygna entity in Japan this year as we are committed to having open dialogues with local stakeholders.”

With Sygna and CoolWallet S, he said the company aims to “build the infrastructure necessary to bridge the gap between crypto industry and the mainstream market.”

“The borderless nature of digital assets requires a solution that isn’t bound by geographical boundaries,” said Yoshitaka Kitao, President and CEO of SBI Holdings. “We are proud to partner with CoolBitX on their journey to bring a secure and easy-to-implement system to the world.” The Japanese financial giant has also invested in the Taiwanese startup in its previous funding round last year.

“CoolBitX and Michael Ou have been a steady presence in the growing blockchain space in Taiwan,” Chen Mei-ling, Minister of the National Development Council. “We are proud to support a home-grown Taiwanese firm like CoolBitX as it continues to accelerate its growth on the global stage.” The national fund it manages has also backed Gogoro and Appier, both of which are commonly regarded as the first unicorns born in Taiwan.

Bryan Chou

Bryan Chou is a Taiwan-based and born journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship for Business Next and Meet. Over the past five years, he has written for a student press, translated numerous magazine pieces, and worked as an intern in two startups. He believes what shapes him into who he is today is not only these experiences but the people he has interacted with and the stories he has learned from them.

He has a BA in Foreign languages and literatures from NTU. After graduation, he spent a year in Prague, traveling extensively around Europe to learn about the history and culture of the region from local people. Currently based in Taipei, he hopes to present the best of Taiwan to the world.