Bitmain’s Investment in Opera Leads to Interest in Finance
Another of Bitmain’s interest in the financial sector may be about to pan out as one of the top web browsers in the world, Opera, has just been reported as set to acquire Fjord Bank in Lithuania. The acquisition move is part of a plan by the browsing provider, which is also an influential player in the field of integrated AI-driven digital content discovery and recommendation platforms, to expand more broadly into financial services.
Bitmain, as a Bitcoin ASIC mining machine specialist and the largest manufacturer of the computers, purchased nearly half (43%) of the released shares of Opera in 2018 during their initial public offering which, according to Reuters, was expected to help raise $115 mln as the browser sells its shares to the public for the first time. Under the registered name, Tospring Technology Limited, Bitmain bought US$50 mln worth of the ordinary shares at a price per share equal to the IPO price adjusted to reflect the ADS-to-share ratio, or the Concurrent Private Placements. Opera listed on Nasdaq under the ticker OPRA in July 2018.
Opera became the first major mobile browser to add a built-in crypto wallet and Web 3.0 support in 2018. It basically separates itself from other browsers for its software’s in-built VPN and an ad-blocker. The introduced crypto wallet seeks to help lower the entry barrier into the web of the future for users and developers alike since internet users would no longer need to install separate dApp browsers or crypto wallet extensions.
The browser reportedly first acquired a 9.9% interest in AB Fjord Bank via a share subscription which was completed earlier this month while the remainder 90.1% is pending regulatory approval. If and when granted, the acquisition will see Opera become the owner of a fully digital consumer bank which plans to launch its first deposit and loan service in Lithuania during the summer of 2020. It will add to its earlier venture into the fintech space in Europe when it acquired the Estonian fintech company PocoSys in January 2020 for which it is currently testing a new version of the Pocopay card and app ahead of a launch in its first European market.
And going by Bitmain’s investment in Opera as still valid, it will mean a boost for the mining chip manufacturer which has been faced with various media reports of internal wrangling including the removal notice issued to senior personnel of the company particularly in Wu Jihan’s department like the CFO, Liu Luyao and the head of mining center, Wang Wenguang.
Though Bitmain also has a spot as one of the 21 EOS block producers following votes by EOS customers among other investments, its interest in Norway-based Opera stands to gain grounds with time considering the brwosing provider’s market focus and expansion drive.
Statcounter presently puts Opera’s world’s browser market share at 1.94% way behind the likes of Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Firefox which all have 65.47%, 16.97% and 4.25% respectively. It served 321.7 mln average Monthly Active Users in the three months ended March 31, 2018, of which 239.4 mln were smartphone and PC users compared to 202.6 mln smartphone and PC users during the same period in 2017.
Olusegun Ogundeji writes on tech-related issues including from the crypto/Blockchain space.
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