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Amex Ventures invests in crypto firm Abra

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Today Abra announced a $55 million Series C funding round led by IGNIA and Blockchain Capital. Amex Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and the Stellar Development Foundation also participated.

Amex Ventures is an existing investor who notably describes Abra as a peer-to-peer digital cash network on its website and it’s Amex’s only crypto investment. That’s perhaps because Abra started by focusing on the Philippines remittance market. Now Abra describes itself as a wealth management platform for cryptocurrency investors. It offers typical cryptocurrency exchange services as well as crypto lending where it says it has processed more than a billion dollars in crypto-backed loans.

“Cryptocurrencies, NFTs and DeFi are now top of mind for almost all investors. The crypto asset class is growing exponentially, even outpacing the early commercial Internet itself. Our vision of crypto-centric banking is coming to life in front of our eyes, and Abra is excited to serve as a leader in the space,” said Bill Barhydt, founder and CEO of Abra.

Despite offering lending solutions, the website of the Californian company does not list any regulatory licenses. We also note that the range of tokens it offers in the United States differs from the rest of the world. In fact, it provides twice the number of tokens on its platform outside of the United States.

Abra had run-ins with regulators in the past. It used to offer exposure to stock and ETF price movements until the SEC and CFTC sanctioned the firm last year. It attracted action from two regulators because stocks and ETFs are securities and within the SEC’s remit, and the solution was essentially a derivative, which is within the CFTC’s area. However, the penalty of $150,000 was little more than a slap on the wrist.