Gemini Acquires Crypto Custody Firm Shard X

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions in the crypto custodian sector.

Jun 9, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:08 p.m. UTC

Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian, has purchased Shard X, a London-based startup that develops technology for crypto custodians, in order to boost the security of its services.

Shard X claims to be the first company to offer multi-party computation (MPC) on hardware security modules (HSMs), which are special computers designed to protect sensitive files. In the past, MPC was thought to be too computationally difficult to store "shards" on hardware. 

Gemini didn't disclose the terms of the deal. Shard X will become part of Gemini’s U.K. affiliate, according to Gemini Chief Operating Officer Noah Perlman. The purchase is the latest in a string of crypto custody acquisitions that included Galaxy Digital's $1.2 billion deal to buy BitGo. That deal was announced last month.

The technology from Shard X will work in conjunction with other aspects of Gemini’s security features, including role-based governance protocols, biometric access controls and physical security. It will also expand Gemini's reach to decentralized finance (DeFi) and other applications.

“Integrating Shard X's MPC technology into Gemini's custody enables us to meet this demand for fast withdrawals, interacting with DeFi staking, or the transferring of digital assets with greater efficiency,” Perlman said in an email. “MPC technology provides a safe and uniform approach for achieving this speed across multiple cryptocurrencies.”

As CoinDesk reported when it came out of stealth late last year, Shard X's technology had banks squarely in its sights.

“Our big breakthrough is that we’ve managed to compress and optimize the MPC code so that it can run on bank-grade HSMs," co-founder Yaniv Neu-Ner told CoinDesk at the time.

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