The startup said in a release on Thursday the funding came from KB Investment, a VC unit of the KB Financial Group, one of the largest banking institutions in Korea; Mirae Asset Venture Investment, a listed subsidiary of investment bank and securities broker Mirae Asset Daewoo; as well as private equity and VC firm Smilegate Investment.
Coinplug, one of the earliest bitcoin exchange, wallet and payment startups in South Korea, has raised 7.5 billion won, or $6.4 million, from venture arms of major local financial institutions.
With the new equity financing, Coinplug said it would be focusing on decentralized identification technologies, an area that has drawn significant interest from the Korean government and major banks in the country.
Founded in 2013, Coinplug operates a crypto exchange with a mobile wallet and bitcoin pre-paid card services available at convenient stores in the country. The new funding is described as a Series B2 round and comes four years after it raised $5 million in the Series B round, also backed by Mirae Asset Venture Investment and KB Investment at the time.
One investor mentioned Coinplug’s participation in Busan‘s efforts to become a major blockchain hub as one of the reasons for their participation in the financing, according to a CoinDesk Korea report.
Coinplug works with a wide range of financial institutions, including Shinhan Bank, Hyundai Card, KB Card and KB Kookmin Bank, and is actively engaged with a number of government entities, including the Korea Internet Services Agency (KISA) and Korea Post, and with the Busan City Blockchain De-regulatory Zone.
Coinplug has so far filed 262 patent applications and received 98 granted patents, according to the statement.
Bahamas to Release Fiat Digital Currency to Counter Cash Dependence
The Central Bank of the Bahamas (CBOB) is planning to release its own fiat digital currency in order to ensure economies’ resilience in the event of a natural disaster.
CBOB governor John Rolle made the statement during his speech at the Counsellors Limited’s Exuma Business Outlook at Sandals Emerald Bay, local news publication the Nassau Guardian reported on Oct. 25. According to Rolle, digital currency has the ability to free the country from dependency on cash – particularly useful after a natural disaster.
The Project Sand Dollar
The digital currency is being developed under the auspices of Project Sand Dollar and will be the Bahamas’ first digital fiat currency. The currency is expected to be accompanied by an associated digital wallet and a card that will contain identical information. Rolle explained:
“It would permit wireless restoration of payments connectively, avoiding the cash shipment and cash handling frustrations. It would permit electronic dispersing of aid and allow families to recapture personal dignity by restoring the flexibility to prioritize the elements of personal need that they prefer to satisfy post-disasters.”
Impact of natural disasters on the banking sector
Rolle noted that following the recent hurricane, the country’s banking sector saw significant damage to the physical structures of Abaco and Grand Bahamas, which led local banks to shut down operations.
Indeed, weeks and even months after a natural disaster like a hurricane, power grids in affected areas remain inoperative. More than 11 months after Hurricane Maria, some places in Puerto Rico were still without electricity.
Commenting on the potential impact of practical offline crypto transaction solutions, Richard Myers, a decentralized applications engineer at Global Mesh Labs and goTenna, told Cointelegraph:
“In many parts of the rural and developing world internet connectivity is both expensive and intermittent. More solutions tailored to these situations would certainly facilitate the use of cryptocurrencies in places where it is needed. Bitcoin transactions can be made over alternative low-bandwidth transport layers like mesh radios and SMS.”
Meanwhile, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is also developing its national digital currency as a way to eliminate the country’s dependence on the United States dollar, which it has been using for decades.