Crypto Custodian Fireblocks Acquires Stablecoin Firm First Digital

The move takes institution-focused Fireblocks into the business-to-consumer and cross-border payments spaces.

Feb 16, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 16, 2022 at 4:58 p.m. UTC

Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

Cryptocurrency custody company Fireblocks has acquired First Digital, a payments technology firm focused on making crypto and stablecoin usage compatible with merchants and cross-border use cases.

The acquisition will assist Fireblocks in expanding support for business-to-consumer payments using USDC, celo, and other stablecoins and cryptocurrencies as early as spring 2022, the companies said in a statement. The deal comes just weeks after Fireblocks raised $550 million at about an $8 billion valuation in its latest funding round..

The tie-up is a natural, said Fireblocks CEO Michael Shaulov, noting the two firms have been working together on various payments-related use cases since 2019.

“The acquisition of First Digital gives us the opportunity to take stablecoins and crypto payments to the mass market,” said Shaulov, speaking with CoinDesk. “It will allow all of our 900 clients – and many more that [First Digital is] bringing to the table – the ability to accept payments in stablecoins, both for business to business, but most importantly for consumers.”

At first glance, the move into consumer and cross-border payments seems like a radical change of direction for institutional-focused Fireblocks. However, the firm began widening its scope and cementing its partnership with First Digital when both were involved in the early days of Facebook’s ill-fated Libra stablecoin project, later renamed Diem.

“We started working on Libra together back in 2019; Fireblocks, from a secure wallet perspective, and First in terms of payment protocols on the blockchain,” said First Digital CEO Ran Goldi. “We think that between the PSPs [payment service providers] both companies work with, we probably have over 2 million merchants that we can serve in 2022.”

Over the last couple of years, crypto custody firms were the likely acquisition targets of banks and larger fintech companies. These days it’s players like Fireblocks, armed with sizable war chests, that are doing the shopping.

“We are looking to leverage our balance sheet, grow organically and find the best companies to merge with,” Shaulov said. “First Digital is the first of many.”

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.

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