An Aussie startup has raised more than $16 million dollars to build one of the world’s most multi-functional cryptocurrency exchanges and payment platforms entirely out of Melbourne.
Nauticus is a blockchain and cryptocurrency startup founded just 12 months ago by long time friends Bryan Ng and Jonathan Chang, and has been “public facing” for just nine weeks.
The startup was born out of the two founders’ visions for a world with greater transparency, accountability and community, and an overarching goal to drive adoption and education around the cryptocurrency space by building a multi-functional and easy-to-use exchange platform.
“There’s nothing wrong with educating people about new things, but we can’t drive adoption by saying ‘hey, come to this lecture’. That’s not how it works,” Chang told StartupSmart.
“All existing businesses all got adoption over time from providing a better alternative to existing lifestyle options. Current exchanges are very complex, changing all the time with graphs everywhere, and only used by traders or speculators.
“We want to make a platform for everyday users to have a seamlessly integrated lifestyle exchange.”
Nauticus’ exchange will aim to support 100 different cryptocurrencies and seven different fiat currencies on launch, with the goal of expanding those numbers to 300 and 16 respectively over the next 12 months.
The exchange will also have an integrated app, which will eventually allow users to “seamlessly” purchase things such as coffees and other retail purchases using the exchange’s platform, a vision Chang says is modelled after China’s widespread use of mobile phones for payments.
Six tiers of features
However, the exchange is only one of the six ‘tiers’ of what Chang and his team are hopefully looking to implement into the Nauticus system.
These include a remittance service (for which Nauticus is already AUSTRAC-registered), and a PayPal or Alipay-like payment platform to further promote cashlessness, as Chang believes the future of currencies will see payments split evenly between traditional fiat currencies and digital currencies.
“These will be the main mediums of transaction, so Nauticus wants to leverage that as well,” he says.
Further tiers to the Nauticus platform include an environmentally sustainable mining centre, with users to be able to buy their mining rigs directly from Nauticus at cost price, an online e-commerce platform and a digital identity system.
This incredibly broad and all-encompassing vision for an online exchange platform positions Nauticus as one of the more ambitious Australian blockchain projects to date. However, the company has already raised $US12.6 million ($16.8 million) to help get the project off the ground, although Chang says this is a bit less than he and the team would like.
“Our soft cap is $8 million and our hard cap is $88 million, and we’ve done everything in a strategic and conservative way to scale up or down based on the funding we receive,” he says.
“The amount we’ve raised so far is very comfortable, but we would prefer to hit one of our higher targets to kick us off with massive scale. Our timeline at the moment goes all the way to 2023, but we actually wanted to get everything done in two years.”
The initial coin offering (ICO) has 15 days to go still and Chang says the company has already had 350,000 people sign up for the exchange. The ICO is selling the company’s NTS token, of which there are 2.5 billion available.
The token will underpin all the transactions done on the exchange, operating as an easy medium of exchange for users wanting to interact between Nauticus’ various ‘tiers’ of operation. Chang also says token holders will be able to transact fee-free on the company’s exchange, and that NTS will eventually be used as a sort of “membership system” for users.
“More quality projects” needed in Australia
Looking broadly at the Australian blockchain and ICO space, Chang says he’s proud of how the country is leading the charge when it comes to regulation and legislation, but warns there aren’t enough “quality” Australian projects on the market, despite the vast majority of local projects having real-world, demonstrable use cases.
“The Australian government is one of the first in the world to support blockchain and crypto through our regulation, and to get involved and be a part of it. The revolution is happening inevitably, and Australia is leading which is an important first step,” he says.
“From an ICO perspective, I think we need more quality Aussie projects, as a number of local projects haven’t been able to establish a real international presence. This would benefit both sides from an Australian tech perspective.”