Blockchain for Banking Capital markets News

Enterprise blockchain firm Symbiont raises $20m from Nasdaq, Citi


Today announced it closed a $20m Series B round of funding led by Nasdaq Ventures. The New York startup is one of a group of enterprise blockchain fintechs that includes R3, Digital Asset, Axoni, Clearmatics and Baton Systems. It’s working with high profile partners including Ranieri for mortgages and Vanguard for index data. Additionally, it’s developing applications for syndicated loans and private equity.

Other new investors include Galaxy Digital, Citi and Raptor Group. This brings the cumulative funds raised to $36 million with the Series A raised in May 2017.

Ledger Insights previously published an in-depth feature about Symbiont.

“We are committed to discovering and investing in innovative technologies to help build our future market infrastructure used by more than 100 marketplaces around the world,” said Gary Offner, Head of Nasdaq Ventures. “Our investment will also include the integration of Symbiont’s enterprise blockchain and smart contract platform into the Nasdaq Financial Framework.”

Nasdaq’s licenses its technology to numerous stock exchanges and financial institutions including in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

“Leveraging our financial markets and blockchain technology experience, our anchor partners like Vanguard, Lewis Ranieri, and Nasdaq will benefit from developing new distributed applications on Assembly, our enterprise blockchain and smart contract platform,” said Symbiont CEO Mark Smith. “Assembly provides the opportunity for new participants to enter the digital asset market and offers existing participants a superior infrastructure on which to build the future of financial markets.”

Different privacy approach

Symbiont’s approach to privacy centers around encryption. Assembly stores all data on the ledger and can handle large files. The team includes leading cryptographer Lisa Yin who previously worked at RSA and has an MIT Ph.D. in Applied Maths.

Other blockchain protocols tend to focus on data segregation, obfuscation and only sometimes purely encryption. For example, Hyperledger Fabric uses mini-blockchains called channels so that only parties to a relationship have access to data. R3’s Corda segregates data at a transaction level so only parties to a single transaction host the data. On Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum data is often logged as hashes (illegible data fingerprints) on the blockchain. But the full data is frequently off-chain.

In the last year or so a special kind of cryptography called Zero-Knowledge Proofs have become popular particularly for Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum community.

Symbiont’s team

The company was founded in 2013 by Smith who previously co-founded Lava FX, a part of the Lava Trading company bought by Citigroup in 2004. For Symbiont, he teamed up with the two blockchain pioneers behind the CounterParty protocol, Adam Krellenstein, and Evan Wagner. They were amongst the first to recognize that the Bitcoin protocol could be used to represent other assets.

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