Even given all the recent turmoil that seems to follow anything with the word “bitcoin” attached to it, there are still many investors ready to dive into the wonderful world of digital currency. Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson and Yahoo Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang are part of an investor group that has just dropped the largest venture capital investment in digital currency to date: $30 million into Bitpay.
Bitpay processes payments made in bitcoin for merchants, allowing them both to receive their funds in bitcoin or traditional currency. Launched in 2011, the company had processed over $100 million worth bitcoin transactions by December of 2013, based on their own reports. Their client list includes the Sacramento Kings basketball team, WordPress and online computer retailer Tiger Direct. They also forged a connection with Branson prior to this investment deal by allowing bookings on Virgin Galactic–Virgin’s still in development extra-planetary travel package–to be made in bitcoin. Reportedly, Galactic has pre-sold “a number” of its $250,000-space tourism packages in bitcoin.
Jan Hammer, partner at European venture firm Index Ventures which led the financing effort, says the group is not terribly concerned with the trading price of bitcoin–which has fallen off rapidly since the beginning of 2014. Between federal rulings on the taxation of the digital currency, the downfall of Mt. Gox and its CEO Mark Karpeles, an effort by Chinese banking authorities to severely limit the currency’s penetration in-nation and now a fistfight in the Bitcoin Foundation’s governing board over the latest round of elections that put an alleged pedophile on the board–it has been a bumpy ride for crypto-currency so far which has kept the value of a bitcoin below $500 for several consecutive weeks, after topping out at over $1,000 in late 2013.
“What we care about is that bitcoin emerges as the Internet method of payment of choice,” said Hammer, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Other investors joining the deal include venture firms Felicis Ventures, New York-based RRE; and TTV Capital of Atlanta. Branson and Yang invested personally.
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