As quickly as bitcoin prices rise or dip, so does the number of bitcoin services that enter the market with the aim to persuade merchants to bring bitcoin onto their eCommerce platforms.
Most commonly, the news headlines talk about BitPay, CoinBase or GoCoin — all of which offer their own services to help physical and virtual merchants climb onboard the bitcoin bandwagon. They now have company. Australia-based igot has launched igot Merchant Solutions. Igot’s bitcoin exchange company is unique case because it is also involved in the remittance market. But the move into merchant services positions the company to compete against more commonly known bitcoin payment processors.
By using igot Merchant Solutions, users can convert bitcoins to local currencies, which can be exchanged and automatically put into a merchant’s bank account. Through this new initiative, merchants can use igot’s platform to accept bitcoin payments in close to 40 countries, where those merchants can then cash out the bitcoin transactions of currencies from those countries.
“Accepting Bitcoin through igot has multiple advantages for merchants,” said Rick Day, co-founder of the company, in a news release. “Integration take just minutes, and it protects businesses from both credit-card chargebacks and price volatility. Perhaps most importantly, Bitcoin is a free marketing tool that is likely to increase overall revenue. This is a win-win situation for merchants and the Bitcoin community.”
And having the global touch in those regions is what gives igot an edge since it encourages cross-border payments. This helps merchants hedge against bitcoin’s price fluctuation since they can cash out at no additional fee. The transaction fee is always a fixed .5 percent charge. Igot is also known for its multi-level verification system for merchants that is backed by bank-grade security with two-factor authentication.
“Our primary focus is online stores, and we do not expect huge numbers of signups from brick-and-mortar businesses at this time,” Day said in an interview. “Over time, we will work with POS solutions to integrate igot’s service into their existing hardware. Right now, accepting bitcoin requires almost no effort from the merchant and, once sales start coming in, igot automatically converts the bitcoin to fiat currency and places it in the merchant’s bank account.”
Through igot, the sales are instantly converted into local currency, so they are not kept at the bitcoin value — eliminating the worries about price volatility. Most businesses, Day said, don’t hold onto any bitcoin, which he noted might change as bitcoin adoption rises. This means making bitcoin “far less technical,” he said.
“Not everyone wants to know how dollar bills are printed, why they are printed the way they are or how the powers that be determine the right number to print. The average consumer just wants to use their dollar bills,” Day said in the same interview. “As long as we can make it easier for them [the average customer] to convert dollars to bitcoin and back with a simple push notification, bitcoin will make more sense.”
Igot currently allows its users to buy, sell, send or receive bitcoin in: India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kenya, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
But igot wasn’t the only bitcoin exchange to make the news this week. Also making headlines was Canadian bitcoin exchange Cavirtex, which was acquired by the New York-based exchange Coinsetter. This merger marks one of the first of its kind in the bitcoin exchange industry.
While Cavirtex had indicated in March that the bitcoin exchange recently shut down following a security breach, it appears as though the exchange has new life through the acquisition. While Cavirtex focuses on the Canadian market, Coinsetter covers the U.S. base for the company. Merging the two companies will help Coinsetter extend its reach across North America. The deal is said to be worth $2 million.
“I’m excited to place a core focus on Canadian customers and believe Cavirtex provides important infrastructure to be successful in this market. We are the only bitcoin exchange with an approved domestic bank account in Canada, and we will be integrating Coinsetter’s trading technology to provide an unmatchable bitcoin exchange for Canadians,” said Coinsetter CEO Jaron Lukasiewicz, who will also lead the Canadian company.
Bitcoin Tracker | Week 68
Wrapping up a week where rumors were swirling that the Bitcoin Foundation is going under, it’s been another hot and cold week for the cryptocurrency. While igot launched its merchant solutions to extend its bitcoin reach and a bitcoin exchange that shut down from fraud was revived in an acquisition, bitcoin also got tangled into a few lawsuits, might get taxed in New Jersey, and the popular bitcoin payment processor Coinbase may have been hacked in an email scam.
Bitcoin is trading at the same price from last week’s price of $245.09 according to the PYMNTS.com Bitcoin Price index.
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On the Plus Side …
Bitcoin hit the campaign trail this week. Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator who announced his candidacy this week, said he would accept contributions in bitcoins — but only in amounts up to $100. Reports about this decision indicate that Paul is trying to attract libertarian and tech-savvy voters who have taken a liking to bitcoin.
The only question is: who’s going to track the source of those bitcoin transactions? Paul marks the first political candidate to accept bitcoin as a currency option for campaign contributions.
- April 5, 2015: BNY Mellon said it’s looking into bitcoin as a new way to conduct financial transactions within its network.
- April 6, 2015: Bitcoin tech company Factom has tapped from Wall Street to help its financial side. Jacob Dienelt, Morgan Stanley’s investment manager, will join the company as its head treasurer.
- April 6, 2015: PayStand announced that its newly launched POS allow merchants to process checks, credit cards and bitcoins.
- April 6, 2015: Let the bitcoin hackathon begin. Coinbase announced $70,000 will be made available for its contest to developers who can design apps to make bitcoin “more approachable.” Winners, of course, will be paid in bitcoin.
- April 6, 2015: Instead of saying “Just Do It,” the former Nike CIO has taken his talents to the bitcoin startup Bitreserve.
- April 7, 2015: Coinbase may join the digital currency market in the U.K. as discussions are underway to set up a regulated bitcoin exchange in Britain.
- April 7, 2015: Coinapult, a bitcoin payment processor, has started back up following a hack that shut down the site last month.
- April 7, 2015: It doesn’t appear Australia will regulate bitcoin as the Reserve Bank of Australia said the process isn’t worth the investment.
- April 7, 2015: Can bitcoin get bank support? A new report shows that while bitcoin could serve some purposes to banks, it indicates that banks won’t ever fully support bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. But parts of the bitcoin technology could be useful, the report says.
- April 8, 2015: Startup OneBit says it’s working on a bitcoin wallet mobile app that will allow customers to use the MasterCard PayPass payment network to pay in store using bitcoin contactless payments.
- April 9, 2015: Telecommunications company Orange said it will support bitcoin in the Silicon Valley region, and is looking to possibly acquire two bitcoin startups.
- April 9, 2015: Overstock.com said this week that it would offer discounts to customers who pay on the site using bitcoin.
On the Dark Side …
Buttercoin, a bitcoin startup that hoped to use the cryptocurrency to make it easier for immigrants around the world to send money home, is closing its doors on Friday (April 10). The shutdown has been attributed to having too ambitious of an agenda. Buttercoin hoped to open exchanges around the world so that customers could reliably make exchanges at both ends of a remittance — and declining interest in bitcoin startups by investors after the bursting of the bitcoin bubble last year.
- April 7, 2015: LEOCoin, the new digital currency, has been tied to reports of the suspected “pyramid scheme” controversy.
- April 7, 2015: Bitmine AG, the Swiss bitcoin miner manufacturing company, faces multiple lawsuits for allegedly misleading customers.
- April 8, 2015: New Jersey wants to tax bitcoins. For retailers in the state, they must collect sales tax — twice. That’s the word from the New Jersey Division of Taxation.
- April 8, 2015: Did the Bitcoin Foundation go bust? Not quite yet, but it appears as though the organization is in financial trouble and will be downgrading.
- April 8, 2015: The small town outside of Boston had to resort to paying the $500 in bitcoin ransom to gain access back to the police server that was hacked last week.
- April 8, 2015: What’s holding bitcoin adoption back? Criminals, says Alasdair Rambaud, senior vice president for payment solutions provider CardinalCommerce.
- April 9, 2015: Bitcoin researchers say the growth in popularity could actually lead to its vulnerability, particularly because of its decentralized nature. More research is needed into the security of the digital currency, the group says.
- April 9, 2015: Coinbase is rising in popularity, but a new “suspicious email” sent to Coinbase users shows it might not be as secure as some think.