Xapo Bank is a Gibraltar-based company that provides a bitcoin wallet combined with a cold storage vault and a bitcoin-based debit card.
XAPO Ltd. (HK) / Xapo, Inc. (US)
||Wences Casares &
||Federico Murrone (COO)
Ted M. Rogers (President)
Seamus Rocca (CFO)
||debit cards, Bitcoin
||Bitcoin wallet, vault,
History of Xapo
Xapo CEO and entrepreneur Wences Casares became interested in bitcoins because of the frequent financial fluctuations in his native Argentina. He has said that his family’s finances were “devastated as the economy (in Argentina) rocketed from inflation to deflation to devaluation.” Casares believes that digital currencies such as bitcoin “could solve the disjointed nature of our world economy.”
In 2011, Casares bought his first bitcoins but couldn’t find a way to store them, so he built a ‘vault’ for his own use. Friends, and later financial institutions, soon asked Casares if they could store their bitcoins in his vault. This became the foundation for Xapo, which was founded in late 2013 by Casares and COO Federico Murrone. Xapo opened its products to the public in March 2014.
Casares said Xapo was founded with the aim of making the bitcoin currency more secure and accessible. The Xapo Wallet operates through a mobile app and online and includes the ability to transfer funds to and from the Xapo Vault. In April 2014, Xapo introduced a debit card that will link to the user’s Xapo Wallet and will function like a standard debit card, except that it is backed by bitcoins instead of traditional currency.
Prior to Xapo, Casares founded and later sold online brokerage firm Patagon to Banco Santander for $750 million. He also launched the first Internet provider in his home country of Argentina in 1994.
In May 2015 Xapo moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California to Zug, located in the Zurich metropolitan area of Switzerland. That year LifeLock, which acquired Lemon, a company led by eventual Xapo founder Casares, alleged in a suit that Casares developed the source code for Xapo using Lemon’s resources. In July 2017, Xapo was granted a European e-money license in Gibraltar allowing it to provide electronic fiat money custodial and transfer services.
In July 2018 Xapo Inc. was awarded a BitLicense by the New York State Department of Financial Services and with it formal approval to operate in the state of New York as a regulated Bitcoin business. Xapo’s BitLicense was the sixth to be awarded.
The Xapo Vault consists of physical servers located around the globe that the company says is protected by biometric scanner access, 24-7 video surveillance, and armed guards. Casares claims that Xapo “is the first bitcoin vault fully protected and insured against hacking and bankruptcy.”
In August 2014, Xapo announced it had raised $20 million to further enhance its security measures.
Full reserve banking
The Xapo vault holds client bitcoins following a full reserve banking and fully segregated model. Users can verify that their funds are in an individual multi-signature Bitcoin address and not pooled or co-mingled with other users’ funds. Legal title to vault bitcoins is always users’, with the property registered in their name following the model of allocated (bailment) gold contracts and never loaned, invested or put at risk. In case of Xapo going bankrupt or going through a process of liquidation, bitcoins in the vault would be completely insulated and vault users would have clear title to them.
Corporate Structure / legal
United States residents using Xapo.com services in the United States are engaging not with Xapo Limited (Hong Kong) but with Xapo, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xapo Holding Limited (Cayman Islands) incorporated in 2014 with its principal place of business in Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Xapo announced $20 million Series A funding in March 2014. The funding round was led by Benchmark, with participation from Fortress Investment Group, Pantera Capital, and Ribbit Capital. Benchmark partner Matt Cohler said the VC firm backed Xapo in part because Xapo “is led by one of the most important people in the bitcoin ecosystem, it’s insured and has investors from both Silicon Valley and Wall Street.” The company has raised a total of $40 million as of August 2014.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Nyongesa Sande or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual’s situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Nyongesa Sande makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author does not own cryptocurrency.
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