Twitter aims for edge in Big Tech’s crypto contest with OpenNode investment

The news: Tech heavyweight Twitter invested an undisclosed sum in OpenNode’s $20 million funding round that valued the Bitcoin payments provider at $220 million, per CoinDesk.

More on this:

  • OpenNode will use the funds for geographic expansion and to support its engineering teams.
  • The Los Angeles-based firm specializes in processing Bitcoin payments and building crypto payments infrastructure to scale the use of Bitcoin as a payment method.
  • “For us, it emphasizes the confidence that Bitcoin is the new base layer for global payments,” OpenNode head of strategy Josh Held said of the raise.
  • Investments are pouring into crypto infrastructure firms. Crypto as a service platform Fireblocks raised $550 million last month, and blockchain developer Alchemy nabbed $200 million earlier this week.

Twitter’s plans for crypto: The social media juggernaut’s investment in OpenNode is part of a sustained effort to build a presence in the crypto space.

  • Last year, Twitter confirmed its commitment to integrate Bitcoin into its services.
  • Twitter launched a dedicated crypto team in November and posted a job listing last month for a senior crypto role to “shape the future of crypto at Twitter.”
  • Twitter also lets users from the US (except Hawaii and New York) and El Salvador tip fellow tweeters with Bitcoin. Twitter’s Tip Jar lets users send fiat money and Bitcoin via third-party payment services like PayPal and Cash App.

Big Tech competes for crypto crown: Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Meta have all dipped their toes in the water as they look to expand into crypto.

  • Meta (previously Facebook) last week joined the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a group of companies promoting innovation in the crypto sector. It was a strategy pivot for Meta, which had just sold its ill-fated crypto business, Diem, for about $200 million.
  • Google built a blockchain unit and launched a digital asset team in its Cloud division as it explores letting customers make and receive crypto payments.
  • Amazon’s main involvement in the space is its Managed Blockchain service, which helps client firms interact with blockchain frameworks like Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum or scale their own private networks.

Given how Big Tech seems increasingly intent on cementing a presence in crypto, perhaps driven by fear of missing out on the next big tech innovation, we can expect more big moves in the space this year and beyond.