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Our Investment In Fordefi—An Institutional Grade Wallet for DeFi

Illuminate Financial· 3 min read

Excited to announce our investment in Fordefi’s oversubscribed $18m seed round led by Lightspeed with participation from Illuminate Financial.

Other investors in the round included Alameda Research, Castle Island, DCG, Defiance Capital, Electric Capital, Jump Crypto, Pantera Capital, PayPal Alumni Fund, Microsoft, Nima Capital, and StarkWare.

Fordefi have built the first institutional grade, highly secure DeFi wallet that enables its clients (financial services institutions) to seamlessly connect to dApps across a wide range of chains.

Our longstanding thesis for digital assets/crypto is — we believe a material % of financial services will move to crypto/defi rails (permissionless blockchains) over the next 5 years. To date, we have invested in institutional grade, chain & coin agnostic infrastructure to enable this new paradigm.

We are backed by a number of large “TradFi” (Traditional Finance) institutions including: JPMorgan, S&P Global, Jefferies, Deutsche Börse Group, Citi, and Barclays, amongst others. Insights and connectivity from these deep strategic partnerships coupled with the Illuminate team’s learnings from building, selling and investing in critical markets infrastructure for decades, positions us well (we humbly believe) to support a the cohort of market infrastructure providers with go-to-market connectivity and previous lessons learned.

We first got to know Josh Schwartz, CEO & co-founder at Fordefi in 2020 when we invested in crypto custody platform Curv’s Series A. Josh was COO at Curv and stood out as unique in a team of rockstars. Given his time at Bloomberg and subsequently, at BitGo (crypto custody platform), Josh had a clear vision of the demands of this new industry coupled with an understanding of what is needed to successfully serve large financial institutions as clients.

Curv was subsequently acquired by Paypal and seeing the continued unmet needs of institutions looking to participate in DeFi…you don’t need me to show you that institutional adoption of DeFi continues to rise…Josh teamed up with Michael and Dima to start Fordefi.

We are particularly excited to be working with Josh again as a member of the Illuminate portfolio and feel privileged to collaborate with such an impressive set of co-investors.

Our portfolio comprises of the key components of the “stack” that is needed to enable secure and compliant adoption of crypto/defi rails by financial services companies. Fordefi fills an important gap, finally enabling secure interactions with dApps.

Our existing portfolio of digital asset infrastructure solutions includes:

Talos — institutional grade trading infrastructure (OMS/EMS)

BlockDaemon — institutional grade blockchain infrastructure

Copper — leading institutional grade crypto custodian

Notabene — transaction compliance platform

Cloudwall — insitutional grade risk management platform

Curv — MPC based digital asset security platform acquired by PayPal

Baton Systems — post trade digital asset solution that enables riskless settlement.

Pontoro — Infrastructure asset tokenization platform

Unannounced deal — coming soon!

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