Morgan Creek Invests in Startup Bringing Bitcoin to DeFi


Bitcoin advocate Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano is betting the top cryptocurrency might have more of a role to play in the emerging decentralized finance (DeFi) space.

Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital was one of the investors in a $2.6 million seed round for Atomic Loans, a Canadian startup looking to create bitcoin-backed lending instruments.

Announced Wednesday, the seed round was led by Initialized Capital – an investor in Coinbase – with participation also coming from the founders of blockchain protocol provider Bison Trails and ConsenSys, a prominent financial backer in the ethereum ecosystem. ConsenSys previously invested in the startup’s pre-seed round in 2019.

The idea behind Atomic Loans is to allow bitcoin holders to leverage the dollar value of their assets on the Ethereum protocol. A user can borrow Ethereum-based stablecoins using bitcoin as collateral and redeem at any time. The funding will be spent on further research and development, the project said.

Pompliano has built a reputation on espousing a strongly bullish attitude towards cryptocurrencies, and in particular bitcoin. He is a regular panelist on various U.S. market shows, often advocating for greater crypto adoption among traditional investors. He claimed on NBC’s “Shark Tank” last August to hold half his net worth in bitcoin.

In a statement, Pompliano said: “Atomic Loans is building the decentralized financial infrastructure that uses Bitcoin how it was intended.” Such initiatives, he added, help prove the original cryptocurrency would form the basis for an “alternate financial system.”

Although bitcoin has so far played a minor role in DeFi, other teams are trying to leverage its $123 billion market value. Projects such as Wanchain, Wrapped Bitcoin and Trustless Bitcoin have all focused on creating Ethereum wrappers for bitcoin.

The main difference with Atomic Loans is users can lock in their holding’s dollar value, giving them the option to benefit from any possible upside. Brett Gibson, a partner at Initialized Capital, said the startup gave DeFi simple access to the “largest and most valuable crypto-asset.”

“Atomic Loans is leveraging their deep expertise in Bitcoin scripting and atomic swaps to create a useful DeFi product that works on the Bitcoin blockchain directly without requiring complex synthetics on other blockchains.”

It’s unclear how large an equity stake Morgan Creek now has in the startup. CoinDesk reached out for comment but had not had a response by press time.

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