Hardware Wallet Startup Ledger Closes €1.3 Million Seed Round

Sandrine Ayral
Feb 19, 2015 at 12:24 UTC
Updated May 7, 2015 at 11:39 UTC
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Bitcoin hardware wallet startup Ledger has raised €1.3m (£959,000) in a seed round led by French VC fund, XAnge Private Equity.

Also participating in the round were Hi-Pay (Hi-Media group), NetAtmo CEO Fred Potter, Rentabiliweb Group VP Thibaut Faurès Fustel de Coulanges, Alain Tingaud Innovations and Pascal Gauthier, Criteo’s ex-COO and founder of Challenger Deep, a bitcoin startup currently working in stealth mode.

This event is being seen as significant for the French bitcoin community. While digital currency startups in other countries such as the US have seen significant VC funding rounds, French bitcoin entrepreneurs have been struggling to garner similar attention.

Ledger released its first product in December 2014: the Nano Wallet, a bitcoin hardware wallet focused on ease-of-use, affordability and security.

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Future plans

Ledger says the round will allow it to fulfil its mission of helping bitcoin and other future blockchain applications to scale and achieve mass adoption via simple yet powerful solutions to secure users’ private keys.

Eric Larchevêque, Ledger’s co-founder said:

“Hardware wallets, or digital identity security systems, must be eventually perceived as a commodity. Only horizontal integration, as well as extremely low cost per user, is compatible with global mass adoption.”

The company aims to focus on developing customer-centric applications: improving the Ledger Wallet experience and finalising the Ledger Blue, a secure element-based hardware wallet integrating a display and a keyboard, as well as NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy capabilities for integration with smartphones and merchant POS terminals.

It also has plans to forge ahead with its LedgerOS TEE integration – the first real-life application running in a trusted execution environment. This will mean private key security and transaction validation will not rely on an external device, but on a secure operating system running on a secure enclave of the application processor, directly inside the smartphone.

The long-term goal is to develop and leverage a core secure operating system, LedgerOSin a diverse set of secure devices and architectures: smartcards (Ledger Nano, Ledger Proton and Ledger Blue), hardware security modules (Ledger Enterprise) and trusted execution environments (Ledger Trustlet).

About the company

Ledger arose out of a union between members of La Maison du Bitcoin, the first European bitcoin centre, and startups BTChip and Chronocoin.

Thomas France, co-founder of both Ledger and La Maison du Bitcoin, told CoinDesk that this type of coming together was the raison d’être of the centre: to “gather great talents, and see what happens”.

Ledger has now grown to a team of 15 members, led by CTO Nicolas Bacca, who come with years of expertise in the fields of security, cryptography, secure elements, embedded hardware and UX design.

XAnge is well-known in France for being at the forefront of FinTech investment, having previously invested in KissKissBankBank, a crowdfunding platform; Lydia, a French Venmo-like startup; and CurrencyCloud, an international payment solution.

Since the launch of Ledger’s first product just two months ago, the startup says it has already sold several thousand Nano wallets in more than 50 countries.

The Nano has also caught the attention of the bitcoin community. Gavin Andresen declared in an interview with Fortune:

“Ledger is an example of an innovation that’s happening that could make it much easier and safer to use bitcoins.”

The company has also indicated it has expansion plans for 2015. Notably, co-founder Thomas France will relocate to San Francisco to open a US subsidiary, Ledger Technology Inc, to place the firm at the heart of the Silicon Valley bitcoin sphere.