Not even a year old, San Francisco Bitcoin payment processing platform Bitnet announced on October 20th that it had closed a Series A funding round worth US$14 million.
The funding round was led by Highland Capital Partners, a global venture capital firm whose investments include Malwarebytes and fashion startup Rent The Runway. Existing investors also participated in the funding round, one of which is Japanese retail giant Rakuten, whose parent company bought Viber earlier this year for US$900 million.
Rakuten’s reported revenue in 2012 came to US$4.6 billion. “We listened to huge retailers,” Bitnet’s CEO and co-founder, John McDonnell, said in a statement, adding:
“A lot of these bigger companies have looked at existing solutions and are still on the sidelines. With Bitnet, we’re building the integrations, systems and technologies that bigger companies need in order to accept Bitcoin. Being scalable and integrating with big, existing payment systems is what’s important to them. Uptime is important. Bitnet removes the risk of accepting Bitcoin, allowing merchants to take payments with zero liability. Bitcoin is like cash, and it’s developed for the Internet. Merchants understand that, and they’re very excited.”
Bitnet’s core team helped build CyberSource, a payments gateway that Visa bought in 2010 for US$2 billion. Since then, the company’s founders and senior executives appear to have embraced cryptocurrencies as an evolution in payments.
Earlier this month, Bitnet announced a partnership with Acromobile Payments to fully integrate Bitcoin into the latter company’s merchant relationship and payments platform.
“The promise of bitcoin interested Bitnet’s team as a universal payment network and currency suited for global ecommerce,” Bitnet’s statement reads. “In a world with credit card transaction fees hitting merchants’ bottom lines and cross-border fees creating barriers to commerce, distributed trust systems like Bitcoin have the potential to disrupt established payment systems and offer significant benefits for merchants and consumers.”
Opportunities in Bitcoin Payments Processing
Now, with major online retailers such as Overstock, Showroomprive and Rakuten getting into Bitcoin, it appears investors are seeing an opportunity.
In September, for example, the Danish government contributed to a funding round for Copenhagen-based Coinify, which processes payments for more than 6,000 merchants.
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