Abra

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Abra
Abra-logo.jpg
Founded 2014
Headquarters Mountain View, CA (with additional location in Manila, in the Philippines)
Key People Bill Barhydt
Products Digital asset trading of traditional equity and commodity offerings
Twitter @AbraGlobal
LinkedIn Profile
Facebook Page
Website Abra Home
Releases Company News
Blog Abra Blog

Abra is a mobile-based cryptocurrency trading platform and wallet. It is available for Apple and Android users.[1]

Company overview[edit]

Abra was founded in 2014 by Bill Barhydt, who formerly worked as a director at Netscape, a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs & Co., and a research engineer at NASA, among many other positions at over a dozen tech companies.[2] He is credited with giving the first TED Talk on bitcoin.[3] In 2015, Abra secured $12 million in Series A funding from a number of investors, including Arbor Ventures, RRE Ventures, and First Round Capital.[4] In 2017, the company closed its Series B funding round at $16 million; at that point, Abra had raised a total of $40 million in funding. Some of its Series B investors included the Foxconn Technology Group, Silver8 Capital, Ignia, Arbor Ventures, American Express Ventures, Jungle Ventures, Lerer Hippeau and RRE Ventures.[5]

In September 2018, Abra enabled the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies for European bank accounts.[6]

According to Barhydt, the company's founder and CEO, Abra's mission is to provide mobile-based cryptocurrency and fiat currency remittance services by turning "every smartphone into a teller that processes withdrawals." Abra allows users to deposit money either by linking their bank accounts to the platform or by using Abra's network of Tellers, who meet users in person to accept cash deposits to a user's account, which are credited with funds. Abra charges these customers a $0.25 fee for the transaction.[7]

Products and services[edit]

Abra is a mobile app and global cryptocurrency platform that offers services for 28 different cryptocurrencies and 50 fiat currencies. Its goods and services include facilitating "self-settling" remittance contracts, a cryptocurrency "hot" wallet, a digital cryptocurrency exchange, and digital asset management.[8][9]

Originally, the service focused on bitcoin. In November 2017, the company announced that it would be adding support for Ethereum.[10] In March 2018, the app supported 20 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, ether, Litecoin, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, and Zcash. The same update made Abra serviceable with 50 worldwide fiat currencies.[11]

Cryptocurrency index trading[edit]

In October 2018, Abra announced it had launched a new token, BIT10, a token that tracks the Bitwise 10 Large-Cap Crypto Index (a cryptocurrency index that tracks the ten largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization) and pegs its value to the prices of the top 10 cryptocurrencies in the market via smart contracts, allowing users to participate in cryptocurrency index-based trading. The price of the BIT10 digital tokens automatically rebalances monthly depending on price changes in the cryptocurrency market, which are applied to the value of the user's BIT10 tokens. Effectively, this allows investors to invest in a "bundle" of cryptocurrencies consisting of those with the largest market cap. Representatives from Abra told Coindesk, who broke the announcement, that this function is not an exchange-traded fund (ETF), and thus does not require SEC approval to trade.[12][13]

Crypto-collateralized contracts (C3)[edit]

In February 2019, Abra announced the launch of crypto-collateralized trading through its new service, "Crypto-collateralized Contracts", or C3. This service allows Abra customers to invest in traditional trade vehicles like stocks, commodities, and ETFs on the Abra app by collateralizing them with bitcoin. When a customer moves money into their Abra account for this purpose, the C3 service uses smart contracts to automatically convert that money into bitcoin. C3 keeps that bitcoin's notional value tied to the price of the stock, commodity or ETF in which the customer invested.

C3 is designed for customers in areas where, due to their geography, income status, lack of trustworthy financial institutions, or even lack of access to investment capital, they do not have the ability to engage in traditional investment. Abra says this underserved consumer population includes billions of people all over the world, and that using C3, even comparatively small investments be made into traditional investment vehicles.[14][15]

CFTC and SEC sanctions[edit]

On July 13, 2020 the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed and settled charges against Plutus Financial, Inc. and Plutus Technologies Philippines Corp., which operate Abra. The CFTC and SEC charged the companies with offering and entering into commodity- and securities-based swaps without the proper registrations.[16]

The SEC order noted that Abra had suspended its sales, marketing and trading operations for a period of time in 2019 after discussions with SEC staff. The company stopped targeting U.S. residents as potential customers when it resumed many of its California-based marketing and product management activities. The SEC says that entities under its jurisdiction cannot execute security-based swaps without being registered even if they are not offered to U.S. persons.[17]

The Plutus companies neither admitted nor denied the charges but did agree to pay a total fine of $300,000.[18]

Key People[edit]

  • Bill Barhydt - CEO & Founder
  • Jim Robinson - Director & Co-Founder

References[edit]

  1. Abra. Abra.
  2. Bill Barhydt. Linkedin.
  3. Former Netscape Director Launches Bitcoin Remittance App Abra. Coindesk.
  4. Abra Raises $12M In Series A Funding For Its Bitcoin-Based Remittance Service. TechCrunch.
  5. Abra adds 20 cryptocurrencies to its wallet app. TechCrunch.
  6. Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index. Cointelegraph.
  7. Abra Raises $12M In Series A Funding For Its Bitcoin-Based Remittance Service. TechCrunch.
  8. About us. Abra.
  9. Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index. Cointelegraph.
  10. Bitcoin Wallet App Abra Adds Support For Ethereum. Coindesk.
  11. Abra adds 20 cryptocurrencies to its wallet app. TechCrunch.
  12. Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index. Cointelegraph.
  13. Abra Is Launching a Crypto Token Tied to an Investment Fund. Coindesk.
  14. Abra launches new stock trading service that turns your $BTC into $FB. The Block.
  15. Abra’s next chapter. Abra.
  16. Crypto app maker Abra settles with CFTC and SEC over off-exchange digital asset swaps, registration violations. The Block Crypto.
  17. ORDER Instituting Cease-and-Desist Proceedings Pursuant to Section 8A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21C of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 . . .. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  18. CFTC Sanctions Two Firms Offering Digital Asset-Based Swaps for Illegal Off-Exchange Trading and Registration Violations. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.