Blockchain.com is celebrating its 10-year-anniversary today as well as another milestone: surpassing $1 trillion in crypto transactions, CFO Macrina Kgil told me.
The cryptocurrency exchange and digital wallet company has handled almost a third of all Bitcoin network transactions since 2012, Kgil says. And the bulk of all transactions processed through Blockchain.com Wallets has taken place over the past two years. “These numbers don’t reflect what’s bought and sold on our exchange, but rather real usage of crypto: instantly sending value across the world as easily as sending an email,” she writes in a blog post. This milestone is “really a great message that crypto is not just for going on an exchange and buying and selling,” Kgil told me. She believes crypto will drive a digital financial system.
Blockchain.com, based in Luxembourg, is led by CEO and co-founder Peter Smith. The U.S. headquarters relocated from New York City to Miami in June. The company has 250 employees, with 25% in the U.S. More than 73 million wallets have been created on the platform, which has 31 million users and operates in over 200 countries. “The thesis around blockchain as a whole in the industry is that people can see where the transactions are moving,” Kgil says.
Blockchain.com announced $300 million in Series C funding at a $5.2 billion valuation in March. Will it go public anytime soon? An IPO is possibly 18-months or more away, Kgil says. The company keeps both cash and crypto on its balance sheet, she says. “The main pieces of crypto we hold are Bitcoin and Ethereum … but we do also hold Altcoins, as a company, when we think it makes sense,” Kgil says.
Bitcoin and Ethereum were among the cryptocurrencies on the rise after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on August 27. “Substantial further progress” has been met for inflation, and the central bank may begin to cut its monthly bond purchases this year, Powell said. People may want to hold Bitcoin as a hedge, Kgil says. “Because there’s a limited population of Bitcoin, the price tends to grow,” she says. Bitcoin experienced unprecedented volatility in July—a low on July 20 of $29,308 to a high on July 31 of $41,598. But it hit $50,000 on the morning of Aug. 23 for the first time since May 12, Fortune reported.
But for many CFOs, the unregulated nature of crypto exchanges makes investing corporate cash in Bitcoin too risky. “I’ve been working with CFOs and treasurers for 25 years and reviewed hundreds of investment policies,” Jerry Klein, managing director of Treasury Partners, recently told Fortune. “Virtually all emphasize safety and liquidity as the top priority. Very few companies will accept even modest risk with corporate cash.”
Kgil joined Blockchain.com as CFO in 2018, which is her first role as finance chief in the crypto space. I asked what skills have helped her manage the financial side of the job. “There were a lot of parallels to my experience as a CFO of different companies,” she says. “I analogized as much as possible between what I had seen before and how the cryptocurrency industry was operating because finance is finance.” But she did have to brush up on blockchain technology’s data structures. “The part that I had to learn very quickly—I needed to be able to speak or at least understand technology because communication within the company was very key,” she says.
Born in South Korea and later moved to Australia, Kgil started her career in the petroleum industry in engineering. But she decided to pivot to the finance field where she began working for PwC as an auditor in Korea and then a transaction advisor in New York. Kgil later served as CFO at companies including Springleaf Holdings, now known as OneMain Holdings, taking the company public.
She’s anticipating the continued growth of crypto. “At this point in time, a lot of people actually think crypto is here to stay,” Kgil says. “It’s just [a matter of] how big and how fast it will grow within the overall economy.”
See you tomorrow.
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"It forces innovation and it shakes up the system a bit."
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