"We believe that Bitcoin will be everywhere."
Usually, people can't hear this from a senior banker. But Veronique Jacq of the French investment bank Bpifrance (partially state-owned) said that Bitcoin is becoming a major component of the global economy.
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That's why Bpifrance has just invested in the first cryptocurrency startup because the bank wants to play an active role in the construction of the Bitcoin infrastructure.
Lightning network development company ACINQ received $8 million in Series A financing, led by Idinvest Partners, and Serena and Bpifrance also participated in the financing. Nicolas Debock, general manager of Idinvest Partners, said the round of financing was also his first investment in Bitcoin.
"We are paying attention to Bitcoin and discover that layer 2 is a great opportunity, and we will definitely pay more attention to this."
“If you are building a digital economy, you need to build a strong and secure infrastructure. One thing I really like about ACINQ is that they are not in a hurry to launch a product that is not yet ready.”
In Debock's view, the early wave of investment in the Bitcoin economy revolved around mining companies, then exchange and wallet providers. But traditional companies like Idinvest are very concerned about timing, as these projects are still subject to immature markets and opaque regulatory environments.
In contrast, investing in companies that have long focused on the application layer is a better opportunity, he said.
"If the Lightning Network fulfills its promise, it will be able to carry a large number of transactions, and when you need to deliver a large number of transactions, there will always be ways to make money."
Jacq also agrees with Debock that ACINQ's business model is not yet clear, but she believes that ACINQ is one of the top startups focused on lightning network protocols.
“In the future, the lightning network will be a place to carry a lot of transactions, so we want to participate and develop together with this infrastructure to drive these transactions.”
Serena partner Kamel Zeroual responded to his peers in a press release explaining why a government bank wants to invest in the development of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
“In the context of currency wars and negative interest rates, the value proposition of Bitcoin – a free, independent currency that sets the issuance policy in the agreement – cannot be ignored. What is needed to achieve its goal is a reliable and usable Scalability solution."
ACINQ wants to be a quiet "Big Three"
ACINQ CEO Pierre-Marie Padiou revealed that after the A round of financing, ACINQ's funds reached 10 million US dollars, and will be used to expand the team of 6 people to 12 in the coming year.
“We are very picky about our employees because it’s hard to find people with matching skills. We are recruiting people, but no matter how long it takes, we have to recruit (appropriate talent).”
ACINQ has been one of the lowest in the Big Three of Lightning Ventures, and many community developments are led by lightning Labs and Blockstream, both in Silicon Valley. ACINQ has its own lightning network client Éclair and Eclair mobile wallet, plus Strike, a lightning network API. Padiou said that since its launch in 2018, the Eclair Lightning Network Wallet has received 15,000 downloads in the Google App Store.
So far, ACINQ operates the largest lightning network node, supporting more than 1000 channels. Blockstream engineer Rusty Russell said he believes this diversified client is good for end users because it's unclear how the network will evolve.
“I started researching Bitcoin because a previous open source project made my career: it is Linux. One thing we learned from this journey is that everything is full of unknowns.”
“Because we don’t know what the future is, so the more experiments, the better. In my opinion, ACINQ is helping to set standards. They are absolutely equal partners. Their style is not so exaggerated, but they will continue to play an important role in this field. I am expecting something to happen."
Development before, after promotion
Padiou said his startups focus on mobile devices and payments.
“This is important because the possible protocols are the same, but we have different perspectives and we want to optimize more places. It allows anyone to build software that meets their needs.”
Idinvest's Debock said that organizations can view the Lightning Network as a "wider application" of Bitcoin's potential, which is suitable for more traditional equity transactions.
Therefore, ACINQ engineer Bastien Teinturier said that showing the investors outside the cryptocurrency can benefit the entire industry.
“Bpifrance's investment is a bigger change: public institutions are recognizing the importance of this technology and its future relevance, they have not tried to suppress it, nor have it ignored it, they want to understand it, and maybe with it Cooperation."
Although Teinturier is grateful for the public outreach made by the Blockstream and Lightning Labs teams – such as running the community Slack, live demonstrations and participating in conferences of all sizes – his team tends to minimize media exposure in the near future. .
"We want to be able to provide a better user experience – privacy, reliable instant payment, even your grandmother will use. We have not achieved this goal, we want to ensure that we can achieve this commitment before taking the time to promote. ”