The increasingly popular virtual currency bitcoin has hit the scene with the force of a number-one draft pick, taking what some thought to be a losing idea in digital money and elevating it to a playoff contender overnight.
Sounds exaggerated? Startup BitPay has certainly benefitted from the currency’s ever-increasing attention, adding more than 1,900 new merchants in April and grabbing $2 million to further its goal of becoming the digital currency’s answer to PayPal without so much as putting out the hat.
Still, while investors like Founders Fund – which includes three founders of PayPal – and Max Keiser’s Heisenberg Capital are clamoring for all things Bitcoin, some in the payment industry are just becoming initiated with the new form of money and the power players like BitPay that have sprung up around it.
With this in mind, PYMNTS.com caught up with Tony Gallippi, the co-founder and CEO of BitPay, to ask him about his company’s explosive growth, its recent windfall and to allow him to introduce his organization for the uninitiated.
PYMNTS.com: We’ve yet to have BitPay on the site, so before we dive into the news you made today, tell us about your company. What are you aiming to do in the payments space?
Tony Gallippi: BitPay is the leading payment service provider (PSP) specializing in the peer-to-peer virtual currency bitcoin that provides instantaneous transactions from anywhere in the world. Using BitPay enables merchants to easily accept bitcoins for payment. Merchants can choose what percentage of revenues are kept in bitcoins or converted to a fiat currency and direct deposited daily into their bank account. BitPay charges a flat 0.99 percent fee to process and convert payments, which is significantly cheaper than most credit cards, and makes it much easier for businesses to accept Bitcoins and properly account for tax purposes.
We want to enable more international eCommerce.
You said in your press release that you weren’t looking for funding, but that this was sort of an offer you couldn’t refuse from Founders Fund. Why do you think they’re such a good fit for BitPay?
It was their experience. They are clearly an innovator in the payment space and ahead of time. They have worked through challenges that we are facing now.
Perhaps an obvious question, but one everyone wants to know the answer to: What do you plan to do with the new funding?
We plan to hire engineers to continue to build out the platform.
How much of your recent success do you attribute to Bitcoin’s growing popularity as a whole, and how much do you attribute specifically to the services you provide? Are you surprised at all by all the attention bitcoins have received as of late?
We are growing faster than the bitcoin community. The innovation of bitcoin is finally getting noticed and we think this is just the beginning.
Finally, where do you go from here? It’s clear that BitPay is growing pretty quickly, but what’s the endgame in the terms of the next few months?
Over the next few months we plan to build the company’s foundation and continue to build out the platform. Longer term, we plan to grow into a large company.