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Crypto API provider Pile raises €2.8m to enable fintechs’ forays into crypto

Pile is tapping into the ever-growing market of fintechs that want to begin offering crypto — by handling the difficult bits behind the scenes

By Amy O'Brien

Jessica Holzbach, Pile's CEO and cofounder

Berlin-based crypto API provider Pile has raised €2.8m in a pre-seed funding round, Sifted can reveal. Led by Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis, the round has also raised money from Auxxo, fintech investor Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital, and a bucketload of angels. 

What does Pile do? 

Pile has built a software platform that deals with the complicated aspects of integrating a crypto offering into an existing fintech. If a neobank, for example, wants to launch crypto wallets or a crypto trading platform, Pile provides them with a simple API platform, while handling the legal intricacies associated with smart contracts behind-the-scenes. 

It’s headed up by cofounder and CEO Jessica Holzbach, who cofounded  B2B bank Penta and has poached some of her former colleagues for her new venture. 

First up, it’s focusing on crypto wallets so that neobanks and the likes can finally answer their customers’ desires and move away from negative interest. Apparently this is the most requested use case — and it certainly sounds familiar after Sifted recently spoke to N26 CEO Valentin Stalf about the digital bank’s plans to do exactly that. Cue a peak at Pile’s list of “strategic” angel investor picks …

Who’s investing in Pile? 

This is where we get a sniff of the clients that Pile may have in the works. (In fact, Holzbach says Holvi are already signed up, as Pile looks to focus on B2B companies first.)

 

  • Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis
  • Auxxo
  • Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital
  • Maximilian Tayenthal, founder and Co-CEO at N26 
  • Holvi 
  • Carolin Gabor, CEO at Movinx 
  • Christian Reber, founder of Pitch and Superlist

What’s the market like? 

In the US, conduit.financial operates on a similar business model, and arda.finance has Asia covered. But in Europe, it’s more of a mixed bag — some traditional banking-as-a-service providers (BaaS) have dipped their toes into crypto, but no one’s had a pure focus on crypto custody providers as of yet.

On the flip side, Openpayd recently launched a BaaS product to allow crypto companies to access traditional banking systems.

At Penta, Holzbach was responsible for banking operations and got constant feedback from its business customers that wanted to make their money work — which got her thinking about how this could be possible. 

What’s next for the company? 

Further down the line, Pile plans to help fintechs with faster international payment gateways, and even the option to pay salaries in crypto. For now, it’s using this fresh capital to grow its tech and product teams (very conservatively) from its current founding team of four to twelve by the end of the year.

Pile’s founding team is based in Germany, but its client base is pan-European. It’s working on getting the necessary licenses and testing watertight security as it goes live with pilot customers in different countries. 

Sifted’s take

Every day Sifted seems to speak to a neobank or fintech CEO, ask them what’s next and get a response of a crypto wallet or trading platform. But pretty much everyone is scratching their head as to how to actually do that and stay compliant. Pile is tapping into a red-hot market here — let’s hope the current crypto downturn doesn’t give those CEOs the chills.

Amy O’Brien is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @Amy_EOBrien and writes our fintech newsletter — you can sign up here

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