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Exclusive: Universal Ledger raises $10M for wallet-as-a-service

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Apr 19, 2023
Illustration of binary code falling into a wallet

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Universal Ledger, which will give customers the ability to build their own crypto wallets, raised $10 million via SAFE notes led by Hard Yaka, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The blockchain-based company plans to tap into growing investor interest in crypto's use in remittances, and into the rising number of governments interested in central bank digital currencies.

Details: Launching out of stealth Wednesday, the company — which does not yet have customers — is targeting large financial institutions and governments.

  • "Our use cases are remittance corridors as well as government disbursements," says CEO Kirk Chapman.
  • Universal Ledger is also tackling identity verification while allowing for some anonymity. Anonymity has been a struggle for the industry in preventing fraud, but also defines much of the technology.

How it works: The company has a tiered verification system, in which an account can receive the lowest level verification by providing a phone number, email, and proof of not being in a sanctioned country. Additional identifying information comes with higher-tier badges, and potentially more privileges.

State of play: Crypto wallets have been rapidly gaining investor interest, with FTX's implosion only bolstering the surge.

  • Blocto, a non-custodial wallet, raised a Series A round in February that valued it at $80 million. That same month, Zengo sought to raise a $100 million valuation.
  • Just this month, Fire raised $3.5 million with the goal of ultimately being a wallet. Late last year, Ottr, another non-custodial wallet, raised $3 million.
  • Notably, Block announced plans to launch a self-custody wallet and remittances services earlier this year.

Of note: Universal Ledger's ecosystem will run on its own stablecoin, which Chapman says will be backed 1-to-1 by the U.S. dollar. Stablecoins in particular have faced heavy scrutiny following the collapse of Terra.

  • "Part of navigating this space as we come out of stealth is education. Part of it is being really transparent so when you sit down with a regulator, you're able to prove this is exactly where funds are," says Chapman.
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