Berlin-based crypto API provider Pile has raised €2.8 million in a pre-seed funding round, Sifted can reveal. Led by the Barclays Women’s Innovators Lab and Anthemis, the round has also raised money from Help, fintech investor Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital, and a lot of angels.
What does Pile do?
Pile has created a software platform that takes care of the complicated aspects of integrating a cryptocurrency 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 complexities associated with smart contracts behind the scenes.
It’s headed by co-founder and CEO Jessica Holzbach, who co-founded B2B bank Penta and has recruited some of her former colleagues for her new venture.
First of all, it focuses on crypto wallets so that neobanks and the like can finally respond to the wishes of their customers and move away from negative interest. This is apparently the most requested use case, and it certainly sounds familiar after Sifted recently spoke with N26 CEO Valentin Stalf about the digital bank’s plans to do just that. Point to a spike in Pile’s list of “strategic” angel investor picks…
Who is investing in Pile?
This is where we get an idea of the clients Pile may have in the works. (In fact, Holzbach says Holvi is already registered, as Pile seeks to focus on B2B companies first.)
- Barclays and Anthemis Women Innovators Lab
- Ilavska Vuillermoz Capital
- Maximilian Tayenthal, Founder and Co-CEO of N26
- Caroline Gabor, CEO of Movinx
- Christian Reber, founder of Pitch and Superlist
How is the market?
In the US, conduit.financial operates a similar business model, and arda.finance has coverage in Asia. But in Europe, it’s more of a mixed bag: Some traditional banking-as-a-service (BaaS) providers have dipped their toes into crypto, but no one has focused exclusively on crypto custody providers so far.
On the other hand, Openpayd recently thrown out a BaaS product to allow crypto companies to access traditional banking systems.
At Penta, Holzbach was responsible for banking operations and received constant feedback from her business clients who wanted to make their money work, which got her thinking about how this could be possible.
What’s next for the company?
Going forward, Pile plans to help fintechs with faster international payment gateways and even the option to pay salaries in cryptocurrency. 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 customer base is pan-European. It is working to obtain the necessary licenses and test waterproof security as it goes live with pilot customers in different countries.
Every day, Sifted seems to talk to a neobank or fintech CEO, ask what’s next, and get a response from a crypto wallet or trading platform. But almost everyone is scratching their heads as to how to do that and be compliant. Pile is tapping into a red-hot market here – let’s hope the current crypto downturn doesn’t give those CEOs the creeps.
Amy O’Brien is a reporter at Sifted. She tweets from @Amy_EOBrien Y write our fintech newsletter — You can sign up here.