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Former founding member of Visa’s crypto team helps Portal Labs land $5.3M in funding

Five members of Portal Labs stand in front of green background.
Raj Parekh (second from left) is cofounder and CEO of Portal Labs.
Courtesy of Portal Labs

Portal Labs, a blockchain infrastructure company, announced on Tuesday that the startup had raised $5.3 million in a seed round led by Slow Ventures.

Other investors in the round included Haun Ventures, which is led by former federal prosecutor Katie Haun, Acrew Capital, Chapter One, and individuals including Diogo Mónica, cofounder and president of prominent blockchain infrastructure firm Anchorage Digital. Raj Parekh, cofounder and CEO of Portal Labs, as well as a former member of Visa’s crypto team, declined to comment on his company’s implied valuation or the current number of employees.

The financial backing of Portal Labs reflects not only the continued interest in blockchain infrastructure companies amid the chill of Crypto Winter but also the increasingly porous boundary between legacy finance and fintech firms and the hundreds of crypto startups.

Visa was great,” Parekh told Fortune, “because I was able to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire ecosystem, from applications and protocols to banks and fintechs—and then from there, identify gaps and pain points.”

The “pain point” he and Portal Labs identified is how siloed wallets, crypto exchanges, and Web3 applications can be. Users with funds on crypto exchanges, for example, aren’t able to easily withdraw tokens on the exchange and use them to play, say, the newest Web3 game. Portal’s developer kit gives these games and exchanges “portals” to other spaces in crypto.

Parekh declined to provide additional details on Portal’s current customer base.

“The barriers to access this emerging ecosystem are high—for both enterprises and consumers alike,” Will Quist, a partner at Slow Ventures, said in a statement. He believes that Portal’s infrastructure will “help onboard the next wave of users into Web3.”

In addition to Parekh, who helped found Visa’s crypto team, other employees from financial titans have also recently set out on their own, hoping to cash in on the trillion-dollar crypto market. Another Visa crypto alumnus, Daniel Mottice, raised $7 million in August for his own Web3 startup, Ansible Labs. And banking titans are backing blockchain startups, including JPMorgan, which led a $20 million funding round for Ownera in September 2022.

“You’re going to see a larger trend of really strong payments folks and crypto folks merging together to build really compelling products and companies,” Parekh told Fortune.

Portal Labs is joining a suite of other infrastructure companies hoping to solve, or at least improve, interoperability between blockchains and decentralized applications. One of Portal Labs’ closest competitors, Parekh said, is Web3Auth.

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