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YICHANG, CHINA - APRIL 14, 2021 - A view of commemorative bitcoin coins, Yichang, Hubei Province, ... [+] China, April 14, 2021. The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is about to go public. (Photo credit should read Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Despite the recent price drawbacks in bitcoin, ether, and other digital assets, the minting of crypto’s latest unicorn, Amber Group, proves that institutional interest in the emerging asset class is alive and well. 

Yesterday, the Hong Kong-based firm Amber Group completed a $100 million series B funding round, handing the four-year-old company a $1 billion valuation. This announcement adds to a year of substantial funding rounds for crypto startups. In 2021 alone, six rounds completed by Blockchain.com, BlockFi, Circle, Dapper Labs, Ledger, and Solana Labs, collectively raised over $2 billion.

The round was led by China Renaissance, with participation from Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, Arena Holdings, and DCM Ventures, among others. They were joined by returning investors and blue chip crypto companies Coinbase, Blockchain.com, and Pantera. 

It has been a good year for Amber Group so far. The firm’s cumulative trading volumes grew to $500 billion from $250 billion at the start of the year and it manages $1.5 billion of crypto assets, depending on bitcoin and ether prices, according to CEO Michael Wu. 

With these new funds Amber Group, which offers electronic market-making, high-frequency trading, and OTC trading, among other services, to both institutional and individual investors, primarily in Asia, plans to expand its offerings in South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and North America. 

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However, Wu said this process was more about bringing in brand name partners to support Amber Group’s brand development and hiring power than raising funds for the company, which is already profitable.

“Our fundraising was never really about raising the capital. In 2019 when we did our series A, it was about bringing institutional partners like Coinbase, like Paradigm, to help us scale. This time again it's about bringing these institutional partners China Renaissance, Tiger, Pantera, Coinbase, to help us first scale, to utilize their expertise, their resources and their brand to help us attract the best talents to bring our brand to the global customers.”

Wu hopes that raising this money will aid in its hiring push, where Amber Group has 100 open positions across sectors available to grow the 340 person team. Amber already has an office in Vancouver to operate what’s referred to as ‘the night section’ from the Hong Kong headquarters. Now the company is hiring in the US, Canada, Europe, and potentially South America, according to Wu. He noted that Amber Group’s customer base has always been international, with the US providing the largest amount of institutional business. 

Regarding future mergers and acquisitions, Wu did not reveal if Amber Group currently has its eyes on any one company, but it is clear that the company will be opportunistic.  “[The funding] will give us more of a buffer to hire more aggressively, expand more aggressively, to do strategic M&A and acquisitions and to really build our infrastructure more aggressively,” Wu said.