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Crypto payments infrastructure startup Ramp raises $53m on the back of impressive growth

The round, the largest of its kind to come out of Poland, highlights the ongoing hype around cryptocurrencies, NFTs and platforms that can help to take them more mainstream

By Kit Gillet

Ramp cofounders Przemek Kowalczyk and Szymon Sypniewicz

Polish cryptocurrency payments startup Ramp has announced a $52.7m Series A round, just months after the company closed its $9m seed round. It comes on the back of 30x growth in transactions over the last year, as well as a tripling of its team in just the last six months.

Rumours had circulated in recent months that Ramp’s imminent raise would be around $30m, suggesting that the four-year-old startup was valued at around $300m. The actual raised amount was close to double that estimate.

The round, the largest of its kind to come out of Poland, highlights the ongoing hype around cryptocurrencies and non-fungible token (NFTs), as well as the potential for platforms that can enable their greater adoption.

“We are at the very beginning of a very exciting moment for this space. I think 2022 is going to be pivotal for the entire [crypto] space, and the main theme will be actual use cases coming online,” Szymon Sypniewicz, Ramp cofounder and CEO, tells Sifted. “We’ve been waiting for it for many, many years.”

“I think 2022 is going to be pivotal for the entire [crypto] space, and the main theme will be actual use cases coming online”

Founded in Warsaw in 2017, Ramp offers non-custodial, full-stack payment infrastructure that aims to open up cryptocurrencies and digital assets to more businesses and users.

To date, cryptocurrencies have largely been the domain of enthusiasts and speculators, who flock to crypto exchanges like Coinbase and eToro to buy and sell digital assets. However, Sypniewicz sees this rapidly evolving, with Ramp enabling websites, apps or services to embed payments infrastructure into their existing systems, without users needing to jump to others apps to buy crypto assets. This is similar to what Stripe and others have done for the ecommerce space; at its last funding round Stripe was valued at $95bn.

Ramp claims it can reduce on-ramping to mere hours, rather than the months it would take if a company were to set up their own on-ramping stack.

“We raised to be able to speed up our development even more. Our first priority is to have more payment rails around the world,” says Sypniewicz.

Ramp is now partnered with more than 400 developers worldwide, including the likes of Axie Infinity, Mozilla, Opera Browser and Dapper Labs, and is the exclusive on-ramping partner for Sorare, the blockchain-based fantasy football game that raised a $680m Series B round earlier this year, at a valuation of $4.3bn.

Sypniewicz points to growing opportunities to work with mainstream video game studios who are looking to add crypto components, as well as decentralised finance scalability solutions and now the rise of the metaverse.

“I think it has to be a process initiated by big existing platforms,” he says. “We see Facebook pushing crypto solutions, as well as many other tech giants looking into it. It’s happening.”

Last year Ramp became the first crypto company to receive an open banking licence in Europe, issued by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority, and in July it received FCA approval in the UK followed by regulatory approval from US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which enables it to operate legally in the US.

Ramp’s latest funding round was led by Balderton Capital, and included existing investors NFX, Galaxy Digital, Seedcamp and Firstminute Capital, as well as angels Taavet Hinrikus from Wise and TrueLayer’s Francesco Simoneschi. It’s an impressive roster of investors.

Digital assets represent a once-in-a-decade moment where a new technology emerges that will have a fundamental impact on our society and culture,” says Rana Yared, a general partner at Balderton Capital, who will join Ramp’s board.

Digital assets represent a once-in-a-decade moment where a new technology emerges that will have a fundamental impact on our society and culture”

Yared says that Ramp is a key piece of infrastructure for opening up the digital asset world to new audiences, by allowing users to buy digital assets directly in-app in a convenient and reliable way, without needing to sign up for an exchange or set up a crypto wallet. “We believe that Ramp is at the right position in the value chain: by allowing any crypto-enabled app to onboard mainstream users, they effectively bridge the gap between use cases that rely on crypto and fiat money.”

“Ramp is central in allowing access to NFTs to mainstream and non crypto native users,” she adds.

To date, Balderton Capital has invested in just a handful of other startups operating in the crypto space, notably fintech giant Revolut, London-based cryptocurrency platform Luno and Berlin-based digital asset platform Finoa. “What’s unifying about all these investments is that they provide the infrastructure for investors and users of digital assets,” says Yared. “Ramp is part of our investments into companies specialising in open finance.”

Over the last year Ramp has grown from around 20 employees to 80, with plans to get to nearly 300 by the end of 2022.

While most of the R&D and operations teams are in Poland, Sypniewicz says that the company’s centre of gravity is now shifting to London, along with senior management and commercial and compliance activities.

“The Facebook announcement alone was just huge, because right now everyone is going to try to think about their own crypto strategy”

Sypniewicz believes the hesitation around cryptocurrencies is disappearing. “People don’t understand how money flows through the fiat [government-issued currency] pipes either,” he says. “I think it’s going to be very similar. Crypto will remain fully understood by only a niche; for most users this is going to just become part of the apps that they use every day.”

“Corporates are moving and are looking for partners to bridge the gap,” he adds. “I think the Facebook announcement alone was just huge, because right now everyone is going to try to think about their own crypto strategy: ‘Why aren’t we working on it?’ ”

Kit Gillet is Sifted’s eastern Europe correspondent. He tweets from @KitGillet

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