Protego Trust, a cryptocurrency custody firm seeking to become a nationally chartered trust bank, has been forced to lay off most of its workforce due to financial difficulties. The company was looking to secure fresh funding, but has been unable to do so, according to a source familiar with the situation. The layoffs were first reported on Twitter, and more than half of the workforce has been let go. However, some employees are still in place, and the company’s operations are ready to launch pending additional capital.
Despite the layoffs, Protego’s charter is still under consideration by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which oversees the national banking industry. The OCC has been supportive of Protego’s focus on security and compliance, as well as the company’s investments in those areas. Protego received conditional approval from the OCC to convert into a nationally chartered trust bank in early 2021, but the final status of the company’s application remains uncertain beyond the allowed 18-month deadline.
Protego raised $70 million in a Series A fundraising round in 2021, which included investment from Coinbase Ventures, FTX, and Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk. The firm appointed former acting controller of the OCC, Brian Brooks, to its board of directors in February 2022.
Protego did not respond to requests for comment on the layoffs.