Digital Currency Group teaming up with Western Union, Foxconn and Prudential Ventures
The former treasury secretary and Harvard University president Lawrence Summers and cofounder of private equity firm Lake Glenn Hutchins are the new board members and senior advisers in DCG.
“Our mission is to accelerate the development of a better financial system,” said Barry Silbert, founder and chief executive, Silbert explained that DCG is beneficial, added these partners would help the company create both new investments and additional ones in its 70+ companies, which focus on areas ranging from remittance to payment processing to a decentralized Internet of Things. In turn, DCG can help Western Union, Foxconn, Prudential and the others operate the virtual currency and blockchain space.
Sanjay Saraf, Western Union’s chief technology officer of digital operations, says the company’s interest lies in discovering the most excellent technology for international funds transfer. Noting that delivery used to be mostly in cash, but that Western Union has increased its competency to send funds to bank accounts and mobile wallets.
Saraf called DCG “an extension of an R&D wing,” and said Western Union is inspecting a collection of technologies like, Ripple, a company that employs distributed ledger technology for international payments, and has committed with other partnerships such as international calling and texting services Viber and WeChat.
The investment by HCM International, Foxconn’s investment arm, connects a firm that works on supply chain management and trade finance with DCG portfolio companies looking to create more efficiency in those areas.
Prudential’s interest mirrors that of previous DCG investors, the insurance companies New York Life and Transamerica, who are exploring how blockchain technology can make insurance processes, including underwriting and onboarding customers, more efficient. Another insurance firm, USAA, invested last year in Bitcoin startup Coinbase.
DCG also announces new additions to its board and advisory team. New board members include Silver Lake’s Hutchins, who also serves on the boards of NASDAQ and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and so brings investment, public company and government experience. Long-time mentor to Silbert Lawrence Lenihan, who was a series A investor in SecondMarket and runs a venture firm that invests in early-stage fashion companies, also joins the board. New senior advisors to DCG include Summers, who brings economic and government insight, as well as Gavin Andresen, the former lead developer of the Bitcoin protocol, who now works at the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, who has technical expertise.
The funding follows last October’s undisclosed amount of investment in DCG by MasterCard, Bain Capital Ventures, New York Life, CME Ventures and others.