Three Princeton grads just raised $133 million from some of Wall Street and Silicon Valley's biggest investors for a cryptocurrency that is 'boring by design'...
On Wednesday, the New Jersey-based cryptocurrency startup 'Basis' announced it had raised $133 million in a round backed by venture capital firms including GV (formerly Google Ventures), Bain Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sky Capital.
Stanley Druckenmiller, the billionaire hedge fund manager, and Kevin Warsh, the former governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve, also bought in.
Basis co-founder and CEO Nader Al-Naji writes:
"...we are building a cryptocurrency with an algorithmic central bank that we believe will make cryptocurrency stable and usable around the world.
we believe the price volatility of cryptocurrencies is one of their biggest barriers to widespread adoption. Unlike the currencies we use today, most cryptocurrencies do not have a mechanism to keep purchasing power stable. This means that sporadic swings in demand can cause huge changes in price.
This is bad. Imagine you’re paid a salary of 1 Bitcoin per month. If the price of Bitcoin drops, you might not be able to make rent. If it rises, your employer won’t be able to afford your salary. It’s simply not a reliable means of payment.
A currency needs to be stable in order for people to use it. Central banks apply monetary policy to mitigate currency volatility. Until now, there’s been no way to create a cryptocurrency with comparable benefits. And no way for cryptocurrencies to become true currencies."
And so that is the approach that 'Basis' takes, attempting to keep prices stable by algorithmically adjusting supply... "like a central bank." (White Paper here)
"When demand is rising, the blockchain will create more Basis. The expanded supply is designed to bring the Basis price back down.
When demand is falling, the blockchain will buy back Basis. The contracted supply is designed to restore Basis price.
The Basis protocol is designed to expand and contract supply similarly to the way central banks buy and sell fiscal debt to stabilize purchasing power. For this reason, we refer to Basis as having an algorithmic central bank."
Basis isn't the only cryptocurrency startup that's hoping to create a stable token that can be used to buy things - As BI reports, the controversial Tether, for example, bases its value on the US dollar, intended to keep the price steady. However, Basis believes that its focus on the developing world will help make it a key part of the financial system.
But, as Bloomberg reports, Basis's approach has drawn skepticism.
Preston Byrne, a blockchain consultant, described the project, formerly known as Basecoin, as “the worst idea in cryptocurrency.”
He argues that the startup over-promises on the potential and its implementation has little in common with a central bank.
Of course, all these 'elite' investors in 'Basis' are hoping to make a quick (stable) buck just like all the unlucky punters in the latest Crypto startup - SaveDroid - whose investors are wondering whether the founder ran off with their money, the site has been hacked, or if it’s all part of an elaborate joke.
While some investors held out hope that this was an elaborate (unfunny) joke... or that the website had been hacked, the founder, Yassin Hankir, tweeted a photo of himself at an airport, and then holding a beer on the beach, saying "Thanks guys! Over and Out..."