Unchained in 2024

First published: 01/10/2024
| Last updated: 01/10/2024
| -- min read

Since 2016 (circa block 433,179), Unchained has been dedicated to serving the needs of the long term bitcoin holder. These were needs that Dhruv and I faced ourselves for secure custody and enhanced liquidity, and at the time, there was a dearth of reputable service providers that could fulfill them. Given our own long term belief in bitcoin, we wanted to build something that would last and have the best chance of becoming a cornerstone institution of this new market.

As difficult as the last 18 months have been for many in our industry, the events that transpired were a great validation of our historical choices. We emerged even stronger from what was the third bear market we’ve endured as a business and witnessed the downfall of some of the largest financial services providers in our industry. Not unlike the values that have driven many individuals to adopt bitcoin as a savings vehicle, our decisions are regularly perceived as contrarian, and in the end it’s nice to see our values endure the test of time.

Early on at Unchained we chose to limit our focus to just bitcoin, providing financial services on a foundation of secure collaborative custody that prioritizes clients holding their own keys, all delivered through our own investments in compliance and regulatory licensing. I am incredibly grateful that we adopted those constraints and made the difficult choices, often against significant pressure from important constituents. As a result, we have been able to persist in helping our clients thrive for the long term.

Below are some highlights and lowlights from last year, as well as a preview of what we have in store for 2024. On behalf of Unchained, I am grateful for the opportunity we all have to build a company at this historic time for bitcoin and the community at large. We wouldn’t be here without such great clients and a bitcoin community that we’ve always felt was rooting for us.

2023 highlights

In April we announced our $60mm Series B, led by Valor Equity Partners. At the same time, we launched our updated logo and website to better reflect our commitment to building an enduring brand in bitcoin. We are proud of the symbolism and professionalism our new logo represents, it’s clear we’ve come a long way as a company!

We launched our new logo in 2023, pointing to bitcoin as our north star and its finite supply of 21 million.

2023 by the numbers:

  • Increased clients by 50% YoY
  • Grew the BTC we help secure by 25%, for $4b total
  • 127% YoY increase in support ticket volume

December was our highest month for email support requests in 2023. Our expert team provided high-touch support with an average response time of less than 3 business hours. 

Last year we launched several new ways we can take care of our clients:

  • Over the Summer we launched Unchained Signature, a new standard for support and access that is available for clients who want to take advantage of everything Unchained has to offer.
  • We started a series of in-depth thought leadership pieces, some written internally and others in collaboration with fantastic partners such as Tuur Demeester.
  • In October we launched Sound Advisory, an RIA affiliate dedicated to providing financial planning and advice to help clients meet their financial goals. Led by Jessy Gilger, it’s already had great success at building a unified financial plan for clients.
  • Also in October, we launched our enterprise custody offering, a network of key agents that together provide an enterprise custody experience in which no single party maintains the keys to a client’s bitcoin.

We also implemented many major enhancements and improvements to the client experience with our web application, including:

  • Enhanced trading experience that includes the ability to sell bitcoin directly from your cold-storage, multisig vault
  • Trust accounts
  • Improved onboarding experience for IRA accounts
  • Wallet improvements that include batch spending, better transaction fee algorithm, and transaction approver quorums

In addition, earlier in the year, we announced the completion of our first SOC I & II certifications, a set of standards and practices that only got better in 2023 and will be reflected in the reports that will be issued later this year.

2023 lowlights

No year is perfect, and we had our share of challenges in 2023. On the heels of the macroeconomic climate of 2022 including rising interest rates and a major retreat of capital from the bitcoin industry, we started the year with capital constraints that affected our borrowers’ ability to refinance or seek new loan financing. These difficulties were disappointing to us and many of our lending clients, and we have worked hard to improve our capital markets footing in this new market environment.

Our second major lowlight is also lending related, as in December we announced that we are pausing originating consumer loans. As disappointing as this is for us and our borrowers, we are working hard to return to the market to offer options for USD liquidity for consumers.

2024 roadmap

In 2024, we will build on our track record from 2023 of shipping enhancements to our platform that make it easier to use and more suited to current and new client needs. This includes improvements around wallet functionality, reporting, and user permissions. We are also changing the way we’re charging for personal accounts and moving to an annual fee that includes our industry-leading support and access to our enterprise key for securing your bitcoin.

For brand new functionality, in Q1 we will launch our mobile application, beginning with the ability for clients to monitor their account, access support, and purchase bitcoin to their vault. Along with our recent institutional lending announcement, we will also be working to bring to market new products for USD liquidity.

Above all, we are furthering our investments in a great client experience through our standard account management, Unchained Signature, and the ability for more clients to have the advantages of our enterprise custody offering. Like those of our company’s history, this is a contrarian bet. As my co-founder Dhruv Bansal outlined in his article Bitcoin needs a network of keys, we believe the future of bitcoin custody is distributed. This starts with more flexible key management models that will make collaborative custody accessible to clients who aren’t yet ready to operate a majority of keys themselves.

Closing thoughts

We are thrilled to step into 2024 with our clients and community fueled by our optimism, excitement, and conviction. Our leadership team and the entire staff at Unchained is fully aligned towards building a sustainable bitcoin-only financial services company. Even though we have been around for more than 7 years, every day feels like we’re just getting started. The decision of who to trust for your bitcoin security and financial services is tremendously important and we aim to continue our track record of being around to serve our clients’ bitcoin needs for the long term.

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