Blockchain wallet and identity innovators Netki has raised a $3.5 million seed funding round led by O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV). Also involved in the funding round was Donuts, Colle Capital, Husseini Group, Digital Currency Group, Tom Turney, Bitfinex, Plug and Play.
Netki's Wallet Name Service makes blockchain-based applications easier to use thanks to automatically generated wallet names like "yourname.company.com", as opposed to things like 1CpLXM15vjULK3ZPGUTDMUcGATGR9xGitv.
OATV managing director, Mark Jacobsen, said: "Blockchain is an emerging transformative technology and we know that creating and scaling standards will be a key component to its success. The combination of Netki's seasoned leadership team, proven track record, and focus on cross blockchain infrastructure puts them in the perfect position to help enterprises tackle existing challenges surrounding identity and ease."
Many industries and institutions are looking closely into blockchain technology, attracted by the efficiencies of transparent databases whose administratory functions are essentially shared, rather than centralised and "trusted". The long view is a revolution in the way value is shared among individuals, machines, companies, institutions and governments.
However, a key barrier to wider deployment of blockchain-based products has been a lack of easy, standardised methods for businesses and individuals to automatically validate the identity of the parties that they are transacting with. Individuals want to be able to trust that they are sending money to their desired recipient, and the receiving party needs to know who they are receiving funds from.
Netki's identity certificate product allows the individual participants in a transaction to easily exchange identity information, and validate that they are interacting with their desired counterparty before any funds are transferred. Additionally, regulated financial services businesses can use Netki's solution to comply with regulations such as the US Bank Secrecy Act 'Travel Rule', OFAC (sanctions list), and satisfy requirements in other use cases, where the ability to acquire identity information about your customers' counterparty is an important prerequisite to doing business.
Netki CEO, Justin Newton said that OATV provides Netki with more than just capital to fuel future growth: "OATV and its affiliate O'Reilly Media have deeply respected roots in the open source developer community. They understand the value of creating standards early on that can be built upon to enable widespread, rapid growth of a nascent technology. We are thrilled that Netki is OATV's first investment in the blockchain space."
Netki is also one of the startup companies involved in an enthusiastic backing of cryptocurrency by the central bank of Barbados, which also features technology from Bitcoin company Bitt, coloured coins innovator Colu and investment from people like Overstock.com's Patrick Byrne.
Gabriel Abed, CEO of Bitt said: "Partnering with Netki was a crucial step towards humanizing the complex bitcoin addresses. Our customers are the millions of global financially excluded persons, most of which live in developing Nations within the Caribbean. Therefore delivering a simple and easy to use interface was paramount when considering how we would serve our customers."