UK banking giant Barclays acquires stake in $2B crypto unicorn Copper

Crypto custody firm Copper has raised significant capital from one of the U.K.’s largest banks, Barclays, which is looking to acquire a stake in the firm, Sky News reported.

Copper is a unicorn valued at roughly $2 billion and advised by former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Hammond.

According to the report, the bank will work alongside a new crop of investors who will be joining Copper’s latest funding round. Barclays is expected to invest a “modest” sum worth a few million dollars as part of the funding round, which will close within the next couple of days.

Copper scales back on its $3B valuation goal

Copper operates as institutional custody, prime brokerage, and settlement firm catering to the needs of major market entities looking to deploy their money into various digital assets. The company was launched in 2018 and has since been able to accrue investments from major venture capital firms, including  LocalGlobe, Dawn Capital, and MMC Ventures.

Earlier reports suggest that Copper was looking to target a valuation of $3B following its latest fundraiser. However, the company has had to scale back its financial goals due to the ongoing bear market plaguing markets across the board.

It is pertinent to note that the company has not yet received a regulatory green light from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The government body currently requires all crypto service providers to acquire a temporary registration to continue their day-to-day operations.

Barclays’ contentious relationship with crypto

Barclays has previously spoken out against the crypto industry on a number of occasions, with the lender even blocking clients from transacting with high-profile cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance and Coinbase.

Additionally, Barclays partnered with Circle in 2016 to release a payment application that allowed users to convert Bitcoin into U.K. Pounds (and vice-versa).  In 2018, the bank released a new venture arm with the aim of researching areas such as distributed ledgers and smart contracts.

Market dynamics continue to remain shaky

Despite the above-stated news of Barclay’s making a sizable investment in Copper, the overall sentiment surrounding the crypto market continues to remain quite fragile. For example, the cryptocurrency fear and greed index, a popular metric used to gauge investor attitude towards the market, still lies in the ‘fear’ zone.

Over the past month or so, a growing list of significant crypto firms, including Three Arrows Capital (3AC), Celsius, Vauld, and Zipmex, are facing insolvency-related issues, thereby severely undermining confidence in the industry.

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