May 11, 2021 04:49 AM

Sequoia, Tiger Global Boost Crypto Bet With Chinese Lender Babel


(Bloomberg) — Babel Finance, a Chinese startup offering financial services to cryptocurrency clients, raised $40 million from investors including Sequoia Capital China and Tiger Global, the latest in a spate of venture capital deals fueled by Bitcoin’s rally.

The Series A fundraising was led by Zoo Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital, and joined by Tiger Global and BAI Capital, the firm said Monday without disclosing its valuation. The new backers will help Babel expand across Asia, North America and Europe, the startup said. As of February, Babel has served about 500 institutional clients, and its core lending business has reached $2 billion in active outstanding loans.

Babel is one of a crop of fledging crypto ventures taking advantage of the boom in digital assets to build up their war chests. Bitcoin took off in October, hitting a record high of $64,870 in April before paring some gains in recent weeks. In just the past two months, Tiger Global has invested $25 million into CoinSwitch Kuber, a Bangalore-based exchange that’s also backed by Sequoia Capital India, while crypto-wallet app maker imToken raised $30 million from investors including Qiming Venture Partners and Breyer Capital.

“Bitcoin was some sort of alt asset for a long time,” Babel founder Flex Yang said in a Zoom call from Beijing. “But now that it has a $1 trillion market cap, people will think of it properly as a new asset class.”

Founded in 2018, Babel recently delved into newer businesses like asset management and derivatives trading after expanding its client base beyond China’s crypto miners, said Yang, a 33-year-old accountant by training. His previous venture offered loans to young entrepreneurs underserved by banks.

Yang envisions attracting 1 million Bitcoins into Babel’s services in four years, up from 100,000 currently. The firm seeks to double its headcount to 100 people this year, he said.

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