Greenfield backs SF and Berlin based open finance platform Celo

by Greenfield, May 13

Over the past weeks we have been heads down at Greenfield executing on our first investments. First up we are very proud to be part of the recently announced $30m financing of San Francisco/Berlin based Celo with the lead of a16z and Polychain.

With Greenfield we are investing in entrepreneurs building in the new decentralized web3 design space and with a series of blog posts we want to kick off elaborating a little more.

The emergence of crypto has paved the way for a foundational shift in the architecture of the internet. In the roughly 30 years that the internet has been in existence it has been weaving into every aspect of our lives but it has also gone through various substantial evolutions. Coming from an open environment in the web1 world we have seen that it has been succeeded and dominated by closed environments. Access to and the exchange of information has so far been at the center in terms of usage.

At Greenfield we have been involved at the forefront in these shifts while working both as investors and operators in Europe and the US. We are extremely excited about the new shift where open-source architectures and protocols unbundle what has been locked in silos. New opportunities that arise from the entrance of crypto networks enable an internet that not only allows us to exchange and access information but promises to also let us share and exchange assets and value directly with each other over the web, leading to a new humongous wave of innovation.

In these transformational times new markets are opening up and pose massive opportunities. This is even more the case when coupling applications of a new technology age to a vastly underserved market and audience.

Enter Celo:

San Francisco and Berlin based Celo is building a global open-source finance platform. While generic in its design and applicability for around the world use they are initially focusing its efforts on a tremendously large market of 2bn people in the developing world that are unbanked and have currently no means of participating in mainstream financial systems. Bringing together distinct skills and experiences that span from working on projects in the relevant regions, entrepreneurial track record and academia the founders Rene, Marek and Sep have gathered together an incredible team to launch a stable cryptocurrency in these developing markets. While the technological infrastructure is minimal in the initial target markets the team is building a user friendly mobile centric experience in combination with verification schemes between community members to enable exchange of payments and crypto-native identity.

Providing a stable cryptocurrency paired with an identity solution based on blockchain technology & cheap smartphones to billions of unbanked people can facilitate tremendous economic development. Once users are on-boarded they can participate in global-by-nature financial markets, powered by secure open-source software, allowing for rapid innovation and adaption to local needs. Celo will provide building blocks and infrastructure for a variety of subsequent financial products in those markets.

While emerging markets have larger needs to leapfrog developed nations’ financial infrastructure, there are also large opportunities for increased efficiency, transparency & innovation in developed economies.

It is exactly these types of projects and teams that we feel excited about that tap into unconquered markets and unleash the power of crypto and open infrastructure. Celo is an incredible example of implementing such core building blocks to have massive impact in parts of the world that have not had access to financial systems.

We will release more about our other investments and strategy here at Greenfield in the coming weeks.

To read more about Celo you can follow them on Medium and Twitter and also read their whitepaper.