“Not your keys, not your coins,” goes the saying, but non-custodial crypto wallets require their owners to either memorize or otherwise securely store a 12- or 24-word seed phrase in order to properly hold and transfer their digital assets.
Argent said it offers an Ethereum mobile crypto wallet app that promises the security and user freedom of a non-custodial wallet without the need to learn and guard a seed phrase. The company has now raised $40 million in a Series B funding round co-led by early-stage venture capital firms Fabric Ventures and Metaplanet.
“Noncustodial crypto was really about users having some kind of secret. If they lose their secret, they lose their money. And if I find your secret, you lose your money. That’s really how any wallet works,” founder and CEO Itamar Lesuisse explained to CoinDesk in an interview. “That’s way too scary. It’s the most stressful experience.”
The Argent wallet backup works by using “guardians” – a hardware wallet, third-party service or a person who can approve account recovery or untrusted transactions.
In addition to the security features, the Argo product is intended to allow the ability to buy and stake cryptocurrencies at a fraction of the transaction or gas fees of other wallets. Users can earn up to 5% by staking ETH and up to 15% for USDC and DAI. Assets can be purchased or cashed out with a payment card or bank transfer. The app uses the native security of the mobile operating systems
The low transaction costs are due to the use of zkSync, a type of layer 2, or companion, Ethereum scaling system called a zero-knowledge (zk) rollup, which essentially bundles a number of transfer requests into a single blockchain transaction to improve throughput and cut fees.
“Part of the reason we were able to gather about half a million people on the waitlist for our [layer 2] accounts was because we reduce fees on L2 from hundreds of dollars to cents,” said Argent Marketing Vice President Chad West. This means “crypto is once again affordable for normal people who don’t have hundreds of dollars to invest,” he said.
Other participants in the funding round included crypto investing giant Paradigm, Index Ventures and Creandum. Strategic investors included Jump Crypto, Animoca Brands and Starkware, the company behind zk-rollup network StarkNet. Argent plans to use the funds to further its geographic expansion and expand its product use cases.
Argent has seen growing demand from Latin America and plans to expand in the region, beginning with Mexico. The firm will also continue to seek partnerships for payment methods and fiat on and off ramps that suit each region.
“Most of the world right now in crypto is really focused on speculation as the main use case. What you see [in Latin America] is more of a necessity to move away from the local currency,” due to inflation and a distrust of local institutions, said Lesuisse.
With the underlying wallet infrastructure firmly in place, Argent plans to build a Super App combining a number of verticals across the decentralized finance (DeFi) and Web 3 spaces, including virtual real estate, gaming, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) and non-fungible tokens (NFT).
“For every vertical, we can build a team that will explore and build solutions,” Lesuisse said. “We want the wallet to be the entry point for how you discover that world.”
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