Tencent leads US$20 mln funding for blockchain firm Everledger

September 27, 2019 18:17
UK-based startup Everledger, founded by Leanne Kemp (right), has received financial backing from Pony Ma's (left) Tencent, with an aim to expand its blockchain-powered supply chain solution to China. Photo: Bloomberg/Everledger

London-based startup Everledger, which leverages blockchain technology on the supply chain of luxury goods, recently announced the completion of a US$20 million Series A funding round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent (00700.HK).

With the investment, Tencent will nominate a representative to Everledger's board.

Everledger develops its blockchain-enabled platform with multiple emerging technologies, including smart contracts, machine vision, and Internet of Things (IoT), to identify and track the provenance, characteristics, and ownership of an asset, such as diamonds, gemstones, wine, and art, to provide confidence in the transparency of global supply chains.

It allows stakeholders and customers to trace transactions of an asset on its secure platform and produce an immutable ledger record of the asset’s lifetime journey.

Last year, Hong Kong-based jewelry group Chow Tai Fook (01929.HK) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) started using Everledger’s blockchain technology to deliver digital diamond grading reports to customers.

Under the system, the GIA diamond grading information for T MARK diamonds will be written directly on a blockchain ledger shared between Chow Tai Fook and GIA. The permanent and immutable blockchain record of the diamond’s information is transferred via the “T MARK” mobile application to the final customer.

Everledger’s latest Series A funding round takes the total amount the startup has so far raised to US$30.4 million. Also participating in the funding were Fidelity, Rakuten, Graphene Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, and Vickers Venture Partners.

“[The funding] amplifies our commitment to global markets while fueling our industry momentum as we continue to build Everledger,” Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger, said in a statement.

“[Tencent] will support us in bringing more visibility to good business practices in industries that impact millions, if not billions of people in developing countries.”

Tencent’s chief strategy officer James Mitchell said in the same announcement: “Everledger’s application of blockchain technology enhances value to consumers and reduces risks for businesses across the industry.”

Everledger said Tencent’s mission to “improve the quality of life through Internet value-added services” is already an integral part of Everledger’s business model.

“We share strategic synergies including several solutions that are part of [Tencent’s] ecosystem,” said Kemp.

The partnership may also help Everledger expand to mainland China, she said.

Kemp also announced that Everledger will launch the world’s first WeChat Mini Program for blockchain-enabled diamonds, which will allow WeChat users to buy jewelry with more transparency and security.

With the file size capped at 10 megabytes, WeChat’s mini programs are mobile applications that are built into its proprietary programming language. 

The ubiquitous super-app is moving towards challenging Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android app ecosystems.

These mini programs now cover various activities such as gaming, ride-hailing, online shopping, and food delivery.

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