The crypto winter puts NGRAVE on the brakes, but also offers opportunities. The Belgian manufacturer’s approach to the world’s most secure crypto wallet leads to a global industry standard.
NGRAVE, the company of Ruben Merre, Xavier Hendrickx and Edouard Vanham, was in the news in January with a capital increase of $6 million. Immediately there was talk of a next capital round of 75 million euros and the recruitment of 60 people.
Decentralized platforms like Celsius encouraged people to disconnect from banks under the slogan ‘Unbank Yourself’, but ended up losing their own funds and freezing their customers’ accounts.
Bitcoin has since fallen from more than $67,000 to around $23,000, and stablecoin terraUSD imploded. Excessive and bad or unsecured debt led to bankruptcies. The leveraged fund Three Arrows Capital collapsed, the crypto broker Voyager Digital capsized and the cryptocurrency platform Celsius collapsed.
- NGRAVE makes the most secure cold crypto wallet in the world. Due to the crypto winter, a large capital increase is replaced by a small round, with a large one later. The workforce will not be expanded for the time being.
- After infamous bankruptcies in the crypto world, the demand for cold wallets is increasing.
- NGRAVE’s approach, which uses QR, will now also be used by the largest provider of software crypto wallets, MetaMask. It will become an industry standard.
‘The market is very different now,’ says CEO Merre. Venture capitalists in some cases even lost money and are showing caution. ‘We will now do a smaller capital increase. We don’t need to raise 75 million euros to do amazing things. We invest the money from a smaller capital round in marketing and sales. Then there will be a big round.’
NGRAVE was founded in 2018 and even then it was a crypto winter. No staff were hired in the first three years. “Last year around this time, the workforce started to grow and now we’re around 30,” says Merre. This is how it will be for the time being, until the capital operation is completed in a few months.
Ruben Merre explains ZERO.
The company was able to surround itself well. With the previous capital increase, parties such as the imec.istart foundation and the Belgian cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater joined. NGRAVE can also contact Leuven’s research center Imec and COSIC, the team at KU Leuven that specializes in computer security and industrial cryptography. “It allows us to look into the future,” the CEO said.
That future looks less bleak than the markets suggest. Recent dramas in the crypto world have highlighted the importance of products like NGRAVE’s crypto wallet ZERO.
The decentralized Celsius platform encouraged people to disconnect from the banks, but in the end even all users’ funds were frozen because they borrowed too much to buy more crypto coins. It doesn’t have 100,000 euros to compensate savers and had too much debt,” said Merre. “Users think they own crypto, but in fact they just have a password to log in. The platform can disappear with their crypto or be hacked . In both cases, users have lost their money.’
The solution is a ‘cold wallet’, a device separate from the computer where owners store their ‘seed phrase’ securely. From that seed set, private keys are generated – the keys that the user can use to access their crypto.
“The convention and the private keys are sacred,” says Merre. “The first principle of not getting hacked is to stay offline. Competitors such as Ledger and Trezor try this, but use Bluetooth and USB cables so that there is still contact with online.’
With the cold wallet ZERO, users can approve completely offline transactions and synchronize the crypto accounts on ZERO with an app via a QR code. The device also has a fingerprint sensor and a camera. For that, NGRAVE cannot possibly know the user’s private keys. The company also has a heat- and water-resistant stainless steel product for backup.
The first principle of not getting hacked is to stay offline.
It gives ZERO the highest safety certificate, EAL7. ‘We reach level 7, as the only financial product in the world.’ NGRAVE’s QR approach is now becoming an open source standard that other parties can integrate.
NGRAVE partners with MetaMask, which offers an online crypto wallet via a browser extension and an app. MetaMask is the biggest player in this field with over 30 million monthly active users and will now also integrate the QR approach. NGRAVE users will soon be able to use MetaMask as an interface. Merre and his colleagues are now also talking to other parties.
How many NULs have been sold since the first deliveries in November 2021 will not be released. Merre notes, however, that the demand for cold wallets is generally on the rise. “We operate in 90 countries and are moving towards hyper-growth.”