Callaghan Innovation has declined to say whether a grant to an Auckland cryptocurrency firm should be seen as a vote of confidence in cryptocurrencies or the technologies behind them.
Sam Blackmore, chief executive of Vimba, previously known as MyCryptoSaver, said Callaghan had invested $330,000 into the business.
“This is a truly significant investment from Callaghan Innovation and a real show of faith in the future of this very exciting asset class,” he said in a statement.
Vimba operates a cryptocurrency saving and trading platform that was initially set up in 2014 to provide a simple way for people to make regular, small purchases of Bitcoin, and now plans to expand in Britain.
Blackmore said the Callaghan grant would go towards developing new features.
“We will use it to build secure multi-signature crypto wallets for our users and we’re also looking into expanding the range of cryptocurrencies available to them — beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum,” he said.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have sharply divided many technologists and economists.
Enthusiasts have promoted them as an advance that could make financial transactions cheaper and more secure.
But some sceptics such as American Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz have gone as far as labelling Bitcoin a scam, while other critics have pointed to the huge amounts of electricity used to “mine” Bitcoin in particular.
Vimba said it had 5616 customers with almost $6.5m worth of Bitcoin.
The world was entering a new era of “mathematical currencies” that were not reliant on “borders or politicians”, Blackmore said.
Cryptocurrencies were valued in countries with unstable economies such as Venezuela, he said.
“New Zealand is a very utopian society. We are the land of the smiling zombies – we don’t really appreciate the social impact or value of Bitcoin,” he said.