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Start-up of the Week: Meet Fortress, the ‘custodial’ force in blockchain space

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Fortress serves industries across different spectrums, spanning from travel, gaming, sports, and entertainment

Astra, a leading provider of infrastructure for faster digital payments, announced a partnership with Fortress Trust in May 2023. Talking about Fortress Trust, the United States-based company has established itself firmly as a leading custodial trust company in the blockchain infrastructure space.

Under the strategic tie-up, the two companies will be eyeing to offer customers a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment solution for Web3 and cryptocurrency products.

In today’s episode of International Finance’s ‘Start-up of the Week,’ we will talk about the venture, which has its presence in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Austin.

Discussing Fortress’ ePayments, Crypto & NFT Wallets

Fortress’ solutions eliminate private keys and seed phrases by providing a secure, stress-free login, and a password recovery process, thus allowing everyone to enjoy the benefits of Web3.

Fortress reportedly serves industries across different spectrums, spanning from travel, gaming, sports, and entertainment.

Fortress’ wallet API lets the users create a cross-chain wallet for clients who hold crypto, NFTs, stablecoins, utility tokens, and more. NFTs are supported on Ethereum and Polygon, and will be expanded to the Solana, and Binance Smart Chain soon.

Also Fortress’ trust platform, the “first Trust-as-a-Service platform of its kind”, extends the typical BaaS (cloud-based Backend-as-a-Service model) offering to the blockchain and other alternative assets.

The venture’s tokenization engine also lets its users securely deploy smart contracts, apart from minting and burning tokens. Users can create NFTs, utility tokens, reward tokens, and pair these products with Fortress’ trust platform to create stable coins and tokenized assets.

Fortress’s Financial Infrastructure For Web3 & Crypto Innovators

Fortress’ team is mainly composed of old-school finance industry executives and emerging technologies experts. The team champions the cause called “Transformation in Payments.”

“We sit on the cutting edge, though in an ‘adults in the room’ kind of way. We build infrastructure to change the game for our customers- creating solutions in ePayments, crypto, enterprise tokenization, and more,” the venture described itself.

Through Fortress’ solutions, Web3 stakeholders can accept and process payments via credit card, linked bank accounts, wires, and crypto. The venture takes care of regulatory procedures like KYC (Know Your Customer), AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and sanctions screening.

“We work closely with exchanges and OTC desks to facilitate easy, instant, risk-free conversions of dollars to crypto and/or crypto to dollars. It is perfect for NFT publishers who want royalties in dollars, as well as for neo-banks who want to give their users the ability to invest in crypto,” Fortress stated.

Fortress’ tools and options also limit/eliminate the customers’ exposure to chargebacks and fraud.

For investment advisers, trusts, retirement accounts, and others who have to hold assets with a “qualified custodian,” Fortress follows quick customer onboarding procedures, while confirming with the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) regulations.

All electronic data, content and intellectual property are encrypted, held and overseen by Fortress Trust at AWS (Amazon Web Services). This provides a solid guard against the potential loss of customers’ assets, in the scenario of data hacking.

Also, under Fortress’ ‘NFT Royalty Escrow’ solutions, users can receive royalties from NFT sales and resales, thus automatically converting crypto to dollars. The transparent solution also gives CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and financial advisors a transaction ledger.

An ‘API-Integrated’ Retirement Account

As of August 2023, Fortress is holding some USD 11.8 trillion in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Customers can invest in Fortress’ IRA scheme through means like crypto, NFTs, real estate, royalties, private business securities, debt instruments and precious metals like gold.

To help the customers avail of the Fortress IRA, CPAs and financial advisors need to write into the venture’s APIs, followed by offering IRAs as an account option to their customers, adding funds on behalf of the customers and then letting customers buy their IRA assets. These financial advisors can also take ‘Advisory Fees’ from the Fortress portal.

Apart from all these, Fortress allows its client businesses to modernize and simplify the latters’ payments to gig workers, contractors and employees. Absolutely zero missed payments/returned checks, low operational cost, transparent payment receipts, API-friendly service integration, brandable debit cards and digital wallets are some of the features ‘Fortress ePAYMENTS’ provides to its clients.

Fortress customers can turn cash into digital USD, while using the venture’s blockchain mechanisms.

Understanding Fortress’ ‘Tokenization Engine’

Fortress also provides a solution called ‘Enterprise NFT Tokenization Engine’ for public and private content, a solution which helps to tokenize art, contracts, securities, healthcare records, videos, estate documents, and intellectual property.

The users’ non-public content, documents and intellectual property remain encrypted, stored on Google Cloud and overseen by a financial institution.

NFT holders get alerted when new content is added to their NFT vault.

For selling NFTs, Fortress provides its users with tools like ‘SELL-DIRECT WIDGET’ (A plug ‘n play widget that the user can use on his/her business website and in social media to sell the NFTs directly to the target audience. Credit cards, bank accounts links, wire transfers or even crypto payment methods can be used for this purpose) and ‘MARKETPLACE LINKING’ (Direct linking for selling NFTs on OpenSea, Autograph, Ethernity or any other WalletConnect-enabled marketplace. Here, the user will receive his/her proceeds and royalties in the individual’s royalty account at Fortress Trust).

The Road Ahead

Fortress hit the media headlines in 2022 by winning the ‘Web3 Innovator of the Year’ by Fireblocks. A year after, the venture got featured among the ‘Top 50 Best Start-ups to Work For in Austin’ by BuiltIn.

So far, the company has raised USD 34 million from investors like SALT, Ayon Capital, Ripple, Nevcaut Ventures and Eagle River. Through the strategic tie-up with Astra, Fortress customers will be able to easily embed both Web3 and instant transfer settlement into their existing infrastructure without capital commitments, pre-funding credit facilities, or complicated technical integrations.

In short, Fortress is here to stay and redefine the fintech sector.

Image Credits: Fortress

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