If you’re unfamiliar with blockchain-based payments company Sila, it’s worth checking out. The Oregon-based company has an API that offers what it calls Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Overall, Sila helps companies authenticate consumers via a partnership with Alloy, connect with consumer bank accounts via a partnership with Plaid, and move money via the blockchain.
So why is 2021 the breakout year for Sila? The answer can be found in two words: digital wallets.
The pandemic has changed how we think about in-person payments. Germ-riddled cash has fallen out of favor and consumers have adjusted their habits to seek out contactless transactions where possible. One side effect of this has been the uptick in digital wallet usage, both among consumers and merchants. According to Fast Company, mobile payments are expected to surpass both cash and credit card payments (based on transaction number) in 2020.
This has prompted even more investment in digital wallets, which used to be looked at as fintech’s tried-and-failed experiment of 2012. However, not only have PayPal and Google lined their digital wallet offerings with new tools, partnerships, and redesigns; individual retailers are getting in on the game, also. Convenience store 7-Eleven, for example, launched an in-app wallet earlier this month.
Here’s where Sila comes in. All three of its capabilities– authentication, bank account integration, and payments– come together to enable companies to create their own in-app, white-labeled digital wallet. While many food service chains have already launched digital wallets of their own, there is still much room for growth in the digital wallet space in 2021.
Sila was co-founded in 2018 by Shamir Karkal, one of the entrepreneurs who co-founded Simple in 2009. There, he was responsible for integrating the challenger bank’s system into BBVA after it was acquired by the mega bank in 2014 for $117 million. Karkal now serves as Sila CEO.
Sila raised $7.7 million earlier this year. The company’s clients range from startups to established businesses working in finance, insurance, real estate, and blockchain.