By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global trading platform Structure, which aims to facilitate crypto-based lending and investing for mobile phone users, said on Wednesday it has raised $20 million in capital from investors and from a private sale of its digital currency $STXR.
Structure will offer decentralized finance, or "DeFi" - crypto-denominated lending outside of traditional banking - as well as investing in tokenized assets, digital versions of assets such as stocks and real estate.
The funding was led by crypto fund Polychain Capital. Other investors include Bixin Ventures, a crypto venture fund, and Ascensive Assets, a digital asset investment firm.
The latest funding valued Structure, which was launched this year, at $150 million.
Structure's venture represents a growing trend among investment platforms to expand access to crypto and DeFi investing to retail investors.
"We built Structure because we didn't think people were fearing missing out in crypto and Defi. They're actually missing out," Bryan Hernandez, Structure's president and co-founder told Reuters in an interview.
"We thought there is an urgent need to build a product that gives regular people, not financial experts and technologists, access to what's going on in DeFi, and without leaving behind the traditional financial universe."
Prior to Structure, Hernadez ran Sonar Trading, a proprietary trading firm that uses algorithms in crypto markets.
Structure, which is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, will enable customers to invest in tokenized stocks, options, cryptocurrencies and tokenized exchange traded funds.
DeFi trading opportunities have historically been accessible only to seasoned investors, leaving a huge untapped market of first-time investors, said Structure.
"We believe strongly that the promise of DeFi is not reserved for the few," said Olaf Carlson-Wee, founder and chief executive officer of Polychain, one of Structure's investors.
Hernandez said the Structure App could be made available to the public at the end of the first quarter.
(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; editing by Richard Pullin)