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October 18, 2017 | 11:30 | Dubai
norbloc, the blockchain Know-Your-Customer (KYC) provider and one of eleven startups selected to be part of the Fintech Hive at DIFC, today announced the completion of a USD 1.6 million seed round led by Marathon Venture Capital, an Athens based venture capital fund. New York based Digital Currency Group also participated in the round, alongside inbox capital, Back in Black and the avito founding team, which represent some of the most successful early-stage investors in Sweden.
norbloc provides banks with a solution to dealing with the cumbersome and inefficient KYC process via a fully compliant blockchain platform.
Raja Al Mazrouei, Acting Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive at DIFC, commented: “This is a very exciting moment for norbloc, and one that makes us all proud at FinTech Hive at DIFC. Our accelerator programme was launched to provide a platform for FinTech players from around the world to collaborate with and showcase their solutions to leading regional and international financial institutions. We wanted to enable entrepreneurs and startups to grow their businesses in the region, and milestones like this are a true testament to the success of this programme. We are delighted to see norbloc embark on the next phase of their growth, and we look forward to witnessing more success stories flourishing at FinTech Hive at DIFC.”
“We’re extremely proud to have received the backing of such a strong group of highly regarded investors and view their support as testament to the relevance and strength of our product,” said Astyanax Kanakakis, CEO and Co-founder of norbloc. “During the course of the Fintech Hive programme, we have been able to discuss our product with a number of financial institutions. It has been a great opportunity to understand the dynamics of the UAE market and how our solution could potentially help foster a more efficient financial services sector by digitizing and simplifying the KYC process. We will use the funding to continue to build the business and acquire talent across the four markets that we are now active in.”
Mounting regulatory requirements with regards to KYC and anti-money laundering directives are pressuring banks to be increasingly diligent in onboarding new customers and monitoring existing ones. The norbloc platform streamlines the KYC process through digitization and removal of duplicated work between banks, resulting in large cost savings for banks who globally are estimated to spend up to USD 20 billion on KYC annually.
“We were immediately intrigued by the sophistication of the norbloc solution,” commented Panos Papadopolous, partner at Marathon Venture Capital. “Anyone who has ever opened a business banking account is well aware of how irritating it is to have to go through the process of providing the same information to financial institutions again and again. norbloc’s platform makes complete sense; it reduces the complexity and repetitiveness of KYC while at the same time empowering customers by giving them full control over their data.”
In addition to the funding, the norbloc team will greatly benefit from the input of its newly formed Advisory Board. Its members include founders of enterprise KYC solutions for Thomson Reuters, previous members of Executive Boards of top-tier European banks (Commerzbank) and regional heads of global financial institutions (Citi and Credit Agricole) with previous experience as Treasurers in some of Scandinavia’s largest corporations.
Founded and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the norbloc team holds significant experience in blockchain technology development, financial services and consulting from companies such as KnCMiner, Lehman Brothers and McKinsey. The company is a core member of and frequent contributor to the Hyperledger consortium, and a leading force when it comes to educating the banking audience about the benefits and challenges of adopting blockchain technology.