Billionaire fund manager Alan Howard takes stake in British bitcoin startup

Billionaire hedge fund mogul Alan Howard and a selection of current and former Goldman Sachs partners are among the backers of a new British startup developing a bitcoin-payments app, as the cryptocurrency continues to fascinate the markets.

The founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management participated in an £11m seed funding round for Bottlepay, the startup said on 22 February. Other backers include venture capital firm Fintech Collective, the bitcoin-focused financial services firm New York Digital Investment Group and entrepreneur Phil Doye.

Bottlepay is an app that allows users to pay their friends, family and businesses in both traditional currencies and bitcoin, as well as buy, store and withdraw the cryptocurrency.

Howard’s investment is symbolic of bitcoin’s growing popularity among traditional funds and institutions as a digital asset worthy of longer-term exposure.

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The veteran fund manager is known for his bullish stance on the cryptocurrency, having reportedly backed institutional bitcoin firm One River Digital’s $1bn crypto bet in December.

Others getting in on the hype include Tesla boss Elon Musk, fund manager Paul Tudor Jones and, more recently, billionaire Jeff Gundlach.

Mark Webster, Bottlepay’s chief executive, said the £11m funding injection gave the startup a post-money valuation of £51m.

“The payments ecosystem is undergoing monumental changes as we move towards a cashless society. Today’s consumer wants to be able to transact freely and easily, without the restrictions of a traditional bank,” he said.

“We believe that with this cash injection, we can build a leading company in this rapidly growing space, which will allow people to send, spend and receive payments in a way that works best for them.”

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Bitcoin has continued to rally over the last week, briefly surpassing the $58,000 mark on 21 February. The price of the cryptocurrency has risen almost 80% since the start of 2021, according to data from Luxembourg-based exchange Bitstamp.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle