Nicole Junkermann is an international entrepreneur and investor, and the founder of NJF Holdings, an international investment company with interests in venture capital, private equity, and real estate. Through NJF’s venture capital arm, NJF Capital, Nicole oversees a portfolio of over 30 start-ups across three continents, including in healthcare, FinTech, and deep tech.
Investment firm Andreessen Horowitz’s announcement at the end of April of a new $515 million fund to invest in crypto networks and businesses demonstrates that cryptocurrency continues to be a hot sector for investors across the globe.
When I first analysed the sector, for me the real opportunity was not in investing in the currencies themselves, but in the infrastructure sitting behind what is clearly a growing, though at times volatile, market. I moved quickly to invest in the crypto wallet platform Blockchain.com, which has since developed into an established and successful cryptocurrency exchange platform and has allowed me to closely follow how the cryptocurrency market has evolved in recent years without the risks associated with investing in specific currencies themselves.
Indeed, while there are plenty of cryptocurrencies in existence today, including the most well-known Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum, we are yet to see a single cryptocurrency adopted as a clear international standard.
The currencies, which are designed to be a secure type of electronic cash, exist virtually and rely on a peer-to-peer implementation system; i.e. there is no central bank or government to manage the system or step in if something goes wrong. However, the currencies are maturing over time and responding to some of the challenges they have previously faced. I am intrigued to see how this sector develops, and in particular how the currencies adapt to changes which are necessary for the long term sustainability of the industry, such as clearer regulation and governance, as well as enhancements in cyber security protection.
Another interesting aspect to this sector is how cryptocurrencies are being adopted much more quickly in emerging markets as opposed to developed economies. In these countries, we are seeing a wave of new cryptocurrency focused products emerge to meet ever-increasing demand. For example, the enterprise blockchain platform launched by Chinese payment giant Ant Financial in February 2020 has already had significant success with young people, who trust and use the platform to invest in a range of cryptocurrencies.
A final point to note is that perhaps surprisingly, as traditional capital markets remain volatile from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the cryptocurrency market appears to be much less so. Indeed, the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index is up about 33 per cent for the year as of the end of May.
While it will be intriguing to see if cryptocurrencies continue to remain more stable in these times, I think it is still very early days in assessing the long-term stability of the market, and certainly the market as a whole is not developed or large enough to yet be considered a safe haven for investors in turbulent times. This is contrasted to markets such as gold, which has traditionally provided comfort to investors in times of economic and geopolitical uncertainty and which, since the COVID-19 outbreak began, has seen its global price increase by around 18 per cent.
Blockchain.com is a Crypto Exchange designed to provide a secure wallet to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Since being founded in 2011, the company now holds over 49 million wallets across 140 countries and has facilitated more than 100 million cryptocurrency transactions with a total value in excess of US$200 billion. To date, the company has raised US$70 million from investors.
Blockchain.com was the perfect company to allow me to invest in a market in which I felt there was a real opportunity, but by backing an exchange platform, I have been able to maintain a watching brief as to how individual cryptocurrencies are developing over time.
Blockchain.com is led by co-founders, Peter Smith, a renowned thought-leader in the FinTech space, and serial entrepreneur and technologist, Nicolas Cary. I am proud to have invested alongside leading investors from across Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and London, including GV (formerly Google Ventures), Lake Star, Lightspeed, and Mosaic Ventures.
Throughout its success, Blockchain.com has focused on delivering its vision to offer financial empowerment to its customers through creating a secure and private platform allowing users to “Be Your Own Bank”.