March 22, 2023

Citigroup has finally put a toe into the crypto waters by leading a funding round in a Hong Kong-based asset management company.

Xalts has been awarded $6 million in seed funding co-run by Citi Ventures, but the bank’s venture capital arm has refused to be drawn on the actual amount.

Polgon founder joins list of backers

Accel, a Californian VC firm, is another backer. And Sandeep Nailwal, who co-founded the Polygon blockchain, has also contributed, along with a host of hedge funds.

Xalts was co-founded by former Meta Asia executive Supreet Kaur, who serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, and Ashutosh Goel, a former trader at HSBC Holdings, who acts as Chief Investment Officer.

Goel said the company intends to expand to multiple locations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, such as Dubai, Singapore, and New Delhi.

In order to capitalize on what it sees as increased institutional investment in digital assets, Xalts said it is looking to launch multiple fund products linked to digital assets, such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed on global exchanges.

Citigroup becomes increasingly convinced of crypto benefits despite downturn

The development is a shift in thinking for Citi, which has so far avoided involvement with the crypto asset space. The change in heart comes as it has become convinced of the future potential of the asset class, despite the chill of crypto winter.

“The world has changed a lot, you know with the macro environments and obviously markets have been suffering as a result of that,” said Luis Valdich, a managing director at Citi Ventures.

“Obviously, we are very prudent in terms of where to and how to deploy capital, but we’re absolutely active with lots of opportunities not only outside digital assets but also within the digital asset space, which we believe is here to stay.”

This can be also said of Citi’s rivals like JPMorgan, which was recently involved in a $20 million funding for Ownera, which is delivering an open-source decentralized protocol to allow instant trading across all asset classes.

Earlier this year, Fidelity Investments started offering employers the option to include Bitcoin in their employees’ 401(k) plans, while Goldman Sachs enabled customers to use Bitcoin as collateral when taking out a loan.

Earlier this year, Fidelity started giving employers the option to include Bitcoin in their employees’ 401(k) plans, while Goldman Sachs let customers use Bitcoin as collateral when taking out a loan.


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