June 8, 2017 / 4:00 PM / a month ago

Nasdaq joins investment round in French blockchain startup Stratumn

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NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. exchange group Nasdaq Inc has joined a 7 million-euro ($7.9 million) investment round in Stratumn, which helps companies develop applications using blockchain technology, the Paris-based startup said on Thursday.

The investment was led by Open CNP, the corporate venture arm of French insurer CNP Assurance SA, with participation from the Digital Currency Group and existing investor Otium Venture, Stratumn said.

Stratumn, which employs 15 people, said it will use the funding to develop its technology and double the size of its team by the end of 2018.

"Our new investors will enable Stratumn to continue and accelerate its development and more effectively address growing needs in our markets," Richard Caetano, co-founder and chief executive of Stratumn, said in a statement.

The company said it has already developed projects with large companies including CNP Assurances, Allianz France, Nasdaq, and Thales SA.

Large companies, including banks and market infrastructure providers, have ramped up investments in blockchain over the past year in the hopes of slashing costs associated with some of their most cumbersome processes, such as securities settlement and international payments.

Blockchain, which first emerged as the system underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a shared ledger of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, rather than a centralized authority.

Proponents of the nascent technology say it offers a more secure and transparent way to record large amounts of data.

Skeptics have warned the technology is still in its early days and may need several more years before it can be deployed on a large scale.

As part of the deal, Stratumn and Nasdaq have also entered a partnership to conduct joint research and development activities on blockchain applications in capital markets, the companies said.

Nasdaq declined to comment on how much it has invested in Stratumn.

Nasdaq was one of the earliest supporters of the technology among large financial institutions.

In May 2015 it announced it would use the technology to operate its market for shares of private companies and a few months later backed San Francisco-based blockchain startup Chain.

The group is also looking to sell blockchain-based systems through its division that provides trading technology to exchanges and clearing houses globally.

"An investment in Stratumn was a natural development for us given the experimentation projects we have successfully executed with Richard and his team over the past year," Jean-Jacques Louis, Nasdaq head of corporate strategy, said in a statement. ($1 = 0.8911 euro) (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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