Auckland-based cryptocurrency startup Vimba says it has landed a $315,000 grant from Crown agency Callaghan Innovation.

LATEST: Callaghan taxpayer funding for Bitcoin startup draws brutal criticism from tech execs

"This is a truly significant investment from Callaghan Innovation and a real show of faith in the future of this very exciting asset class," Vimba CEO Sam Blackmore says.

Vimba's platform lets its customers save and trade bitcoins.


After bitcoin crashed in value from a mid-December high of close to US$20,000 to under US$5000 in the new year, many became sceptical about the cryptocurrencies prospects, and those of its many imitators.

The global investment hype machine has moved on to blockchain (a transactional database technology developed for bitcoin), AI, machine learning and cannabis.

But Blackmore urges people to look beyond bitcoin's recent volatility and focus on what he sees as a positive long-term trend.

"We believe Bitcoin will at least reach the market cap of gold as it is a more efficient, more accessible, more secure version of that rare asset. For it to reach the market cap of gold, one Bitcoin would be worth around $600,000 — more than 60 times what it's worth today," he said.

Callaghan, at least, is backing his vision.

Vimba chief operating officer Matt Gibson told the Herald Vimba will use the Callaghan cash to develop technology to send small amounts of bitcoin to hundreds of thousands of customers at once - which he says will become the exchange's point-of-difference from competitors.

The company also wants to push into the UK - where Blackmore has taken up temporary residence - and will officially launch in that market in a couple of weeks.

Today, Vimba specialises in a savings scheme to help people save a stash of bitcoin. Gibson says customers can put in a small amount of real currency, such as $20 a week or $50 a month, to start saving bitcoin.


Gibson refused to comment on revenue or profit/loss numbers, bar saying Vimba is still in a loss-making phase.

The company has six full-time-equivalent staff, he said.

The COO said the two-year-old start-up has 5616 users with around $6.3m worth of bitcoin between them at today's exchange rate.

The money was awarded to Vimba under Callaghan's Project Grant scheme, which will continue after the agency's cornerstone Growth Grant programme is axed from April 1 next year as the Labour-led government shifts focus to a universal R&D tax break.