Billionaires back blockchain company Block.one's new crypto exchange

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and hedge fund bosses Louis Bacon and Alan Howard invest in Bullish Global bourse

Brendan Blumer, chief executive of Block.one, says Bullish will revolutionise the high-performance trading landscape. Getty
Brendan Blumer, chief executive of Block.one, says Bullish will revolutionise the high-performance trading landscape. Getty

A blockchain software company backed by billionaires Peter Thiel, Louis Bacon and Alan Howard launched a new cryptocurrency exchange focused on decentralised finance (DeFi).

The new entity, called Bullish Global, is capitalised with over $10 billion in cash and digital assets, including an initial cash injection of about $100 million by Block.one, a $300m funding round, 164,000 Bitcoin and 20 million of the company's own EOS crypto tokens.

Bullish has been set up as a subsidiary of Block.one as a cryptocurrency exchange based on blockchain. It is designed “to combine the performance, user privacy and compliance offered by central order book technology with the benefits of DeFi market architecture”, the company said in a statement.

Bullish's investors include its parent company's billionaire backers – venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Mr Thiel, and hedge fund bosses Mr Bacon and Mr Howard.

Hong Kong businessman Richard Li, German financier Christian Angermayer, Mike Novogratz's New York-based cryptocurrency investor Galaxy Digital and Japanese investment bank Nomura also participated in the funding round.

The platform will “revolutionise the high-performance trading landscape”, Brendan Blumer, chief executive of Block.one, said.

It will automate “expensive third-party functions" that are currently carried out by intermediaries, such as market-making activities, and turn them into "yield-generating portfolio management tools to offer institutions and individuals better and safer access to the latest cryptocurrency investment strategies”, Mr Blumer added.

DeFi is a blockchain-based financial system that does not depend on mediators like banks, brokerages or exchanges to deliver financial services. Instead, users enter into "smart contracts" that are often based on the Ethereum blockchain platform.

The DeFi market has grown from about $15bn to $65bn since the start of the year, according to JPMorgan.

Cayman Islands-based Block.one is the creator of EOS.io – an open-source decentralised blockchain platform for developers, entrepreneurs and businesses. The Bullish exchange will operate on the EOS.io blockchain when it goes live later this year.

It will offer automated market making, securities lending and other portfolio management tools to users in a challenge to brokers, investment banks and other traditional market participants.

“Bullish’s balance sheet is strong … its vertical integration offers stability and liquidity to the cryptocurrency space. I am happy to join Bullish as an investor and adviser as it gets started on a long and fruitful journey,” Mr Thiel said.

Although Bitcoin now accounts for about 46 per cent of total crypto market value, down from roughly 70 per cent at the start of the year according to tracker CoinGecko, it’s still the biggest single coin by far. Photo: Reuters
Bitcoin accounts for about 46 per cent of total crypto market value, down from roughly 70 per cent at the start of the year, according to tracker CoinGecko. Reuters

“Successfully bridging the gap between digital assets and institutional actors will shape the future of the financial sector as we witness greater mainstream adoption of digital currencies,” Mr Howard said.

“I am excited about being involved with Bullish’s mission to give its users more value-added control over their financial future,” he added.

The cryptocurrency market "continues to benefit from institutional adoption and Bullish is well positioned to leverage blockchain-based market structures that will play an important role in further improving access for institutional and retail investors", Mr Bacon said.

Published: May 12, 2021 01:33 PM

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