Paradigm, spearheaded by Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, has just led Argent’s $12 million Series A together with Robert Leshner, founder of Compound and Index Ventures. Founded in December 2017, the London-based wallet startup has now raised $16 million.
“I don’t know what the revenue model will be, but we know it’s going to attract a lot of users.” Leshner said of Argent. “They are creating one of the smoothest on-ramps to decentralized finance (DeFi) products.”
Leshner said he was attracted to the investment opportunity because the startup provides a unique combination of “smart contract architecture” and “convenient user experience.” In addition, the crypto wallet has social recovery features so users can get back their accounts if they lose phones.
Argent CEO Itamar Lesuisse said there are already more than 3,000 active user accounts and more than 1,000 people on the waiting list for the public launch in April, during the six-month closed beta. So far he said more than half of them are using DeFi products, such as loans and interest-bearing deposits.
“DeFi was the reason to come to Argent,” Lessuisse described the user feedback as being.
For example, users can now take out a crypto-backed loan with just a couple of clicks of a button. These DeFi products, he added, involve technical risks related to “bugs within smart contracts,” but he said the DeFi companies, not the wallet itself, are responsible for specific product disclosures.
Easy, Secure and Convenient Solution for People to Participate in DeFi
One such provider, the Maker Foundation, said in a press statement it’s “very supportive of Argent’s work to make it more easy, more secure and more convenient for more people to participate in DeFi.”
Paradigm partner Matt Huang said his firm was attracted to Argent because it “strikes a nice balance between security and usability.”
Lesuisse said the mobile wallet of his 17-person startup is “as simple as Venmo,” and this year will expand its options for the DeFi product.
Indeed the mobile wallet is designed for simplicity. It allows users to purchase crypto through partnerships with Wyre and MoonPay, using their debit cards or Apple Pay accounts. Yet critics like blockchain consultant Udi Wertheimer say once wallet funds are plugged into the DeFi ecosystem, then the funds are managed by Maker or Compound and can be taken away from users at any point.
This wallet has a unique phone-related identifier and a backup recovery method set up with either Argent or a friend or relative of the user, which is unique in comparison with similar mobile wallets with private keys. The DeFi loans and contracts with the wallet, however, are still arguably under the reign of various providers such as Compound. Last month, a smart contract vulnerability that led to a loss of just under $1 million hacked the DeFi project bZx, which isn’t accessible through Argent.