After rising 900% in value across the last year, Bitcoin hit a new record last week, surging beyond $50k for the first time in its history.
Crypto’s gone mainstream and, for startup Bitwala, which allows people to invest directly in cryptocurrencies from their bank accounts, it’s meant users increased by nearly 50% across 2020.
The Berlin-based bank now has €100m in assets under its management, it’s operationally profitable and, in terms of the number of customers it has, it’s the third biggest neobank in Germany, behind fintech giants N26 and Revolut.
Its next task: can “the bank for the blockchain economy” convince customers that, beyond the high-risk highs of Bitcoin, it can offer customers safe, lower risk investment opportunities?
Bitwala was started in 2015, in a time when, as CEO and founder Ben Jones puts it, Bitcoin was “super nerdy — something for the cyberpunks, the anarchists and people who thought we shouldn’t have any kind of centralised government.”
“It was kind of seen as ‘the bank killer’ that was going to take over Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and central banks. We were a little bit different, we thought it could be a way of upgrading