Animoca, Ripple Back Crypto Custodian at $300 Million Valuation

(Bloomberg) — Hex Trust, a Hong Kong startup offering custody services for crypto assets, has seen its valuation rise 10-fold in a year to $300 million with a financing round led by Animoca Brands and Liberty City Ventures.

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The Series B round, which raised $88 million, also garnered participation from new investors including Ripple, Terra, Morgan Creek and Primavera Venture Partners, the startup said in a statement Wednesday. The firm had raised $6 million in March 2021, said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Alessio Quaglini.

“Nobody’s doubting anymore that blockchain will become the new infrastructure of the financial markets,” Quaglini said in an interview. “If a big chunk of financial services has to run on the blockchain, then you are sure you will need institutional players providing infrastructure for institutional investors.”

Hex Trust is among a crop of crypto startups trying to bring the Wall Street formula to digital assets, in everything from lending to custody and wealth management. Founded in 2018, it now has $5 billion in assets under custody from over 200 institutional clients, it said.

Existing investors including QBN Capital, Kenetic Capital and HashKey Capital also participated in the round, according to the statement. The firm will use the proceeds to expand in Europe and the Middle East, and obtain additional licenses beyond its current bases in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Quaglini, a banking veteran who spent time with Italy’s securities watchdog and Spanish bank Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA), co-founded his venture with Rafal Czerniawski, formerly a tech chief for broker CLSA. Apart from custody, Hex Trust also generates revenue from trading, staking and financing services. The startup broke even in the fourth quarter, Quaglini said, but it’s focusing on growth instead of profitability this year, with a goal to double client numbers and their assets.

In November, Hex Trust and Animoca announced that they set up a joint venture to provide wallet and financial services for gamers under Animoca properties. The new firm will run as a standalone team with its own CEO, and serve other gaming firms as a custodian in the future, Quaglini said.

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