Teller raises $7M led by Blockchain Capital to bring unsecured lending to DeFi
Teller, a decentralized finance protocol designed to allow lending and borrowing of blockchain assets, today announced it has raised $6.8 million in new funding to expand its integrations with third parties to launch loan marketplaces.
Led by Blockchain Capital,the round was joined by Franklin Templeton, Toyota Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Upstart, Signum Capital and others.
Decentralized finance is an emerging technology based on blockchain and cryptocurrencies that removes the need for middlemen, such as traditional banking, in financial transactions and is primarily driven by programmable smart contracts. DeFi protocols today account for more than $200 billion in total locked-in value, primarily from collateralized lending and trading applications.
Using Teller’s protocol, users would be able to borrow and lend cryptocurrency tokens without the need for collateral in a manner similar to credit cards and personal loans. That would open up a whole new market within the DeFi industry, said Ryan Berkun, Teller’s founder and chief executive.
“Teller is paving the way for a traditional financial primitive to enter the DeFi space: data-driven, unsecured lending and borrowing of crypto assets,” said Berkun. “The ability to append off-chain data to a loan request will transform how individuals and lenders interact with DeFi and unlock lending opportunities only currently available in traditional financial markets.”
The Teller protocol approves unsecured loans by allowing users to connect their bank accounts and evaluate the borrower’s banking history. This serves as a measure of the borrower’s creditworthiness for potential lenders. Certain borrowers can receive interest rates as low as 0%, depending on how risky the loan may be.
Teller is also capable of providing secured loans, which will require a minimum amount of collateral. Borrowers can also connect their bank accounts in order to reduce their interest rates based on creditworthiness and banking history.
“Unsecured lending is a thorny problem in the pseudonymous on-chain world and one of the largest opportunities for DeFi,” said Bart Stephens, co-founder and managing partner of Blockchain Capital. “The Teller Protocol enables traditional and crypto native lenders to use the best credit scoring techniques possible while preserving privacy.”
DeFi loans have been a developing part of the market with numerous different protocols emerging to support lenders and borrowers. Examples include Aave, Cream Finance and Compound, which are all DeFi protocols, decentralized software-driven apps that provide lending services.
This is all happening at a time that centralized services such as cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc. and BlockFi Lending LLC have been attracting attention from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission because of their activities. BlockFi recently settled with the SEC for $100 million in penalties and agreed to register its crypto lending product.