Crypto Firm Raises $87 Million from Gal Gadot, Justin Bieber and More Celebrities To Bolster ‘Creative Crypto Renaissance’

27th Annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration, Arrivals, Los Angeles, California, USA - 19 Oct 2021
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Crypto payments infrastructure firm MoonPay announced it has raised $87 million from a slew of celebrities, helping it usher in the “creative crypto renaissance.”

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The 60 figures and organizations from the worlds of music, sports, media and entertainment include Ashton Kutcher, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steve Aoki, Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Sharapova, Gal Gadot, Diplo, The Weeknd, Matthew McConaughey, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Bruce Willis, according to a press release.

“Web3 is radically changing how we think about creative value,” MoonPay’s co-founder and CEO Ivan Soto-Wright said in the release. “We’re on the cusp of a creative crypto renaissance, and our strategic investors are helping to lead that movement. We’re honored to work with them to help onboard the world to Web3.”

Soto-Wright told Bloomberg that NFTs are more than just JPEGs, and provide a way for artists and creators to manage royalties. The company seeks to help them think about strategies for the emerging blockchain-based web — or Web3 – he said.

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Alex DiNunzio, CEO of Jambb, a digital collectibles marketplace focused on comedy, told GOBankingRates that one of the most important indicators that Jambb has seen since it incorporated MoonPay’s credit card checkout flow in its platform “is that nearly 80% of our NFT buyers are first-time purchasers.”

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“Moreover, they’re paying with credit cards. This is fantastic for the industry as we strive to bring in the next one billion participants. If this trend continues, we expect that products like MoonPay’s will find more demand beyond today’s crypto-first NFT buyers as it becomes just as easy to purchase an NFT as it is your coffee at Starbucks,” DiNunuzio said.

DiNunzio said that “the trick to the Web3 ecosystem” is obfuscation of the complexities of the technology itself: the less a consumer has to understand about a blockchain or wallet or the mechanics of how cryptocurrencies work, then the more likely they are to engage with a product.

“This fundamentally shapes our product strategy at Jambb and our decision, for example, to work with MoonPay. Ideally, the inclusion of celebrities in MoonPay’s funding round is an indicator that global, non-crypto-native fanbases are interested in participating in the development of products in the Web3 world, and this is likely to accelerate adoption of this technology and, in turn, broaden the scope of those who participate in it. It’s great to see!”

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MoonPay — which dubs itself the “PayPal of crypto,” according to Bloomberg — said that the funding is part of its $555 million Series A financing round, which valued the company at $3.4 billion in November and was led by Tiger Global Management and Coatue, with participation from Blossom Capital, Thrive Capital, Paradigm and NEA, according to the release.  The funding helped the company forge partnerships with organizations such as OpenSea, Michael Jordan’s “Heir Jordan,” Tom Brady’s Autograph, and FaZe Clan. It has also allowed it to grow its global footprint by launching products such as NFT Checkout — an NFT solution that allows users to purchase an NFT instantly with a credit or debit card.

Colin Zarzour, Head of Operations at Koii, a company that builds decentralized infrastructure for creators in the Web3 economy, told GOBankingRates that in crypto, there is an ever-present tension between (on the one hand) creating simple financial tools and (on the other) the goals of decentralization, transparency and security.

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“MoonPay definitely seems to fall into the first camp — Justin Bieber, Maria Sharapova, Snoop Dogg, Drake and other huge household names are investing to push adoption of an app dedicated to simplicity. That’s probably good for crypto mass adoption. Certainly, as a founder of a startup in the space, I can say that there is a need for better payment solutions for crypto, and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see many more MoonPay-like announcements in the coming months and years,” Zarzour said. “What I would draw attention to, however, is how few, if any, of these services seem to bowl the 7-10 split, and hit the goal of providing an easy-to-use experience while also operating a decentralized platform that is run and owned by its users. In that way, the “PayPal for crypto” slogan works — MoonPay looks a lot like a financial tool from the e-commerce era that crypto was hoping to grow beyond.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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