Van Eck heir to launch new USD stablecoin with $12M VC backing

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Nick van Eck, the son of investment management maestro Jan van Eck, is set to launch a new United States dollar-backed stablecoin after closing a $12 million funding round.

Crypto veterans Drake Evans and Joe McGrady joined with van Eck in October to build Agora — which will launch the Agora digital dollar with the ticker AUSD, according to an April 2 Bloomberg report. Nick van Eck will serve as CEO.

AUSD will be fully backed by cash, U.S. Treasury bills, and overnight repo agreements, while $90 billion asset management firm VanEck — where Jan van Eck is CEO — will manage a fund for Agora’s reserves.

“There is a need to have transparent and trustworthy institutions managing the assets of these digital dollars,” said VanEck’s director of digital assets Kyle DaCrzu.

The $12 million seed funding round was led by digital asset VC firm Dragonfly, with additional investments coming from Robot Ventures, Wintermute, Breed, and General Catalyst — where van Eck previously worked as a partner.

Evans previously served as head of lending at decentralized finance firm Frax Finance, while Joe McGrady was the director of operations at digital asset management firm Galaxy Digital.

Source: Agora

Agora’s parent company is incorporated in Delaware and its stablecoin issuer is based in the British Virgin Islands. For the time being, it will only serve select markets outside the U.S.

“Until there’s federal legislation for stablecoins in the U.S., we’re going to focus primarily on customers outside of the U.S.,” van Eck told Bloomberg.

Van Eck expects places such as Argentina and Southeast Asia will benefit most from a digital dollar.

Agora enters a fierce stablecoin market, led by Tether (USDT) and Circle (USDC), which boast respective market caps of $104.3 billion and $32.5 billion, according to CoinGecko.

The next six largest stablecoins all boast market caps above $500 million.

Related: Cardano finally gets fiat-backed stablecoin USDM after huge delays

However, van Eck believes there’s still room for a newcomer. Agora will focus on establishing strong partnerships with all industry players, from cryptocurrency exchanges and custodians to decentralized applications and trading firms.

Source: Drake Evans

Van Eck said AUSD holders wouldn’t receive income like holders of the TerraClassicUSD (USTC) did before it completely collapsed in May 2022.

“I think especially post what happened last cycle, we were losing the narrative and I want to build a company that I think brings this industry forward.”

Agora did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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