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 across Europe and the US similar in size to a small venture fund, including in healthcare, fintech, and deep tech.
Rapid advancements in technology, globalization, digitalisation and now, a pandemic, have led to an important milestone in the history of digital finance. Lockdowns and lack of money-printing has focused attention on the inefficiency and cost of conventional money, pushing many, including new users, towards cryptocurrency. In July, Forbes reported that Bitcoin surge to over $11,000 per bitcoin, triggered by a retail trading boom. Moreover, the Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study published in September 2020 by the University of Cambridge recorded 101 million cryptocurrency users worldwide.
Cryptocurrencies, which are designed to be a secure type of electronic cash, exist virtually and rely on a peer-to-peer implementation system; ie there is no central bank or government to manage the system or step in if something goes wrong. As we move into an increasingly digital age, the future of cryptocurrency is going to become ever more important. According to Chief Economist at DBS, Taimur Baig, cryptocurrencies are expected to see “a pandemic-led acceleration of adoption”. That’s how Singapore-based DBS Bank describes the current state of digital assets in its quarterly report on cryptocurrencies published in August 2020.
I have made a range of investments across the FinTech space, one of which is in blockchain.com. This investment was the perfect opportunity to allow me to enter a market in which I felt there was a real potential for growth, but by backing an exchange platform, I have been able to take a watching brief as to how the actual individual cryptocurrencies are developing over time.
It has been interesting to see how the likes of Ripple, Ethereum, and Litecoin battle for supremacy, how these currencies have been adopted much quicker in the emerging markets rather than in traditional economies – and particularly among younger people in these markets, and how cryptocurrencies have remaining relatively stable among the uncertainty in financial markets caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blockchain.com is a Crypto Exchange designed to provide a secure wallet to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies. Since its founding in 2011, the Company now holds over 47 million wallets across 140 countries and has facilitated more than 100 million cryptocurrency transactions with a total value in excess of US$200 billion.
The company has raised US$70 million to date. 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 on its vision to offer financial empowerment to its customers through creating a secure and private platform allowing users to “Be Your Own Bank”. Blockchain.com continues to be led by its co-founders, Peter Smith, a renowned thought-leader in the FinTech space, and, serial entrepreneur and technologist, Nicolas Cary.
As an investor, I am excited to see how this sector develops and, in particular, I am eager to see how the currencies adapt to the inevitable and necessary changes in this industry, such as clearer regulation and governance, as well as enhancements in cyber security protection.
Digital payments, alongside the infrastructure and technology upon which this industry is founded, have been around for a long time. However, it has recently become clear that this virtual currency has become a global phenomenon. Growing global connectivity and technological advancements has also led to an enhanced sophistication in the cryptocurrency market and it will be interesting to see how this continues to advance.