Institutions Are Definitely Here: ConsenSys’ Harriet Browning (Interview)

Institutions Are Definitely Here: ConsenSys' Harriet Browning (Interview)

ConsenSys is an Ethereum blockchain innovator and the company behind the leading MetaMask wallet. The Brooklyn, New York-based Web3 company has raised more than $5 billion in late-stage seed funding over the past six months.

Meanwhile, its MetaMask wallet and Ethereum Dapp OS have over 30 million monthly active users as of this writing.

Harriet Browning is Head of Business Development and Strategic Sales for ConsenSys EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

Browning is an accredited CFA with a background in derivatives, mutual funds, structured finance, equities, FX options, fixed income and investment banking, and her work at ConsenSys brings a wealth of experience to the blockchain industry .


During the Paris Blockchain Week conference, CryptoPotato had the opportunity to talk with Browning about ConsenSys and the recent seed funding MetaMask, about Web 3.0, what differentiates institutional MetaMask from individuals, and why she’s not worried about the ongoing crypto bear market.

ConsenSys is growing fast: $450 million in seed funding

ConsenSys recently raised $450 million in a funding round led by SoftBank, Microsoft and Case-Mate. Previous Series C investors include Third Point, Marshall Wace, TRUE Capital Management and UTA VC, the venture fund of the United Talent Agency.

Harriet Browning, ConsenSys

Browning believes that these giants are risking huge sums of money to invest in the blockchain space, which is another important step towards mass market adoption of cryptocurrencies by established players in the high-tech and financial industries:

“I think there’s no doubt that we’re seeing large investors coming into this space and taking interest in this space. We definitely see it as a signal for the adoption of the decentralized web, Web 3.0 in general.”

These companies aren’t just throwing all the skins in the game to reap the rewards of blockchain growth.

Strategic partnerships resulting from these investments will also continue to intersect innovation and best practices across sectors to spur broader growth and marketisation:

“For us, these investors are not just investors, they are strategic partners. So they are partners that will help us grow our platform, grow our products and tools to improve and increase the benefits of Web 3.0 use.”

SoftBank’s participation in the seed round is a strong signal. The Japanese investment management group has backed a long list of blockchain companies (eg, CertiK, DriveWealth, The Sandbox, Blockdaemon, FTX US, Elliptic).

Browning believes that, like ConsenSys and its peers in the blockchain space, the rapid growth in valuations is a sign that Web3 is here:

“I’ve worked in traditional finance. I’ve seen the pace of innovation there. I’ve seen such a dramatic change in the development and growth rate of products in the blockchain space.”

As the future of blockchain unfolds rapidly, here’s how ConsenSys is taking advantage of the opportunities presented by Web3 and its institutional-grade, regulated version of the MetaMask Ethereum DeFi wallet:

“MetaMask Institutions is the de facto DeFi wallet with access to Web 3.0. It’s a decentralized network for institutions, but not just institutions for all organizations. So our North Star goal for this product is essentially for everyone , All organizations provide access.

What we’re doing here is basically replacing the hardware wallet layer with custodial integration, as this provides the rigorous security and governance that institutions specifically need to store their private keys. “

Browning explains how ConsenSys provides MetaMask users with an extra layer of security through a hosted integration. This is critical for institutional investors to securely and safely hold digital assets in the Web3 ecosystem.

The Institutional Bridge of the Web3 Revolution

She expands on the motivation behind the institutional version of the well-known network extension wallet, and how it differs from the personal version we all know.

“This is more onerous than what consumers need to enter the DeFi space because institutions need to have multiple signers to transact.”

In addition, they have integrated various compliance features so that institutions “can understand their transactions and perform pre- and post-trade analysis of the smart contracts and wallets they will be participating in.

The number of different ways users have developed their interests and businesses on the platform is staggering.

“We are seeing luxury brands entering this space: also artists, NFT collectives and DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). So we are trying to provide a range of flexible products for key management with the partners we bring in because Not everyone has the same requirements.”

Wall Street has taken notice. Traditional investors’ attitudes toward seeking returns from the established cryptocurrency industry range from disdain to skepticism to eagerness to seek returns:

“It’s definitely no longer a ‘here they come’ narrative. It’s definitely a ‘here they are,’ how do we support and help this ecosystem grow with them?”

Bear Markets: Institutions (Still) Coming

This year’s bear market in cryptocurrency and DeFi token prices has brought a flood of institutional investors with the opportunity to make massive acquisitions at bargain prices:

“How do hedge funds generate performance? It’s about alpha, right? That’s what we essentially support and solve. So how do you remove barriers to entry into DeFi? That’s where the long tail of alpha and opportunity lies.”

With the blockchain industry booming and teams like ConsenSys building bridge infrastructure for institutional players, there seems to be a lot of upside for the cryptocurrency industry.

She also believes that despite the “overall macro environment,” the market has become more resilient.

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