Richard Branson: Banking is in the Midst of Enormous Change and Innovation

In the wake of BitPay’s success in raising a record $30 million in a financing round led by venture capital group, Richard Branson, who took part as an investor with an undisclosed amount, released a statement on his stake in BitPay:

“Banking as we know it is in the midst of enormous change and innovation. We have jumped in by investing in alternative payment models and also by accepting Bitcoin for tickets on Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline.

Bitpay has proven itself to process Bitcoin safely and reliably, growing the market and increasing adoption, which continues to build trust, legitimacy and momentum in this exciting currency revolution.

Its hard to overlook BitPays impressive surge since it was launched surpassing the $100,000,000 amount in Bitcoin transactions processed and over 30,000 merchants worldwide. It has also jumped ahead of the money wiring service giant, Western Union, back in November by the transaction volume processed.

Branson and BitPay already have an established partnership. Last year, Bransons company, Virgin Galactic, announced he'd begun accepting Bitcoin with BitPay as the processor. The outspoken entrepreneur also recently conceded that Bitcoin does have its drawbacks. Nevertheless, he admitted that whoever invented the idea of a decentralized, P2P currency was a genius.

Its no secret that many people are becoming disillusioned with traditional banking and finance as the idea of paying substantial fees for the privilege of using banking services are becoming less and less attractive to regular citizens. Compare this with Bitcoin, which allows users to receive and send money to any place on earth instantly and almost without any friction.

But while many have criticized Branson for using Bitcoin as yet another PR tool, it is getting increasingly difficult to support this argument in light of his recent stake in BitPay. So perhaps the only question remains is whether Sir Richard Branson is a true believer in the nascent technology or whether he is simply diversifying his investment portfolio.

Community commentary

Thomas J. Ackerman: While he is an individual, Richard surely carriers some weight; so his demonstration of support of Bitcoin is very helpful in furthering the positive development of Bitcoin. By putting actual cash into one Bitcoin startup with the largest fundraising so far in the market he lends even more gravity to it.

As far as banks go, I could not agree more. As I said recently on the panel at the Munich Venture Summit this month, banking is evolving, and the freedom of choice given with the last disruptive technology (free interaction in communication via the internet) cannot be taken away again. What sparked and allowed to happen the Arab Spring as one example, will similarly allow "the people" globally to have choices in how they transfer funds individually around the globe in one currency, without regulation, interference (Argentina), or huge costs.

Thomas J. Ackerman (on the right)

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