By Jon Matonis
Monday, January 7, 2012
today that they have completed a seed funding round of $510,000 from
several angel investors demonstrating that bitcoin can attract the
capital necessary to encroach upon legacy payment methods. Similar to
merchant processors for credit and debit cards, BitPay is a Payment Service Provider (PSP) specializing in eCommerce, B2B, and enterprise solutions for virtual currencies.
Investors participating in the seed round include SecondMarket founder Barry Silbert, Spotify investor Shakil Khan, Jimmy Furland, Roger Ver,
and other Internet entrepreneurs. Specific terms of the deal were not
disclosed but co-founders Anthony Gallippi and Stephen Pair will retain
majority ownership. Investors Silbert and Ver also participated in the
April 2012 funding round for mining pool operator CoinLab.
CEO Anthony Gallippi says, "BitPay plans to use the funds to move the headquarters from Orlando to Atlanta
and to hire additional developer talent for enhancement to the BitPay
platform." With proximity to other financial technology companies and
several leading universities, Atlanta provides an excellent base for expansion.
Gallippi added that the WordPress decision
to begin accepting Bitcoin via BitPay for certain features is "what
really accelerated this funding round because investors saw it as the
ideal time to move forward." Since the November 2012 WordPress
deal, BitPay has seen new merchants increase by nearly 50% to over
The total dollar value of all bitcoin transactions
processed by BitPay in 2012 was over $3 million, which represents
average quarter-to-quarter growth of 50% over the past four quarters for
"With very little resource, BitPay has
already taken the place as market leader in the bitcoin payment
processing ecosystem, and along with the other investors, I am very
excited to help the founding team scale up and take it to the next
level," said London-based Shakil Khan, an early investor in Spotify and
The value proposition to merchants is clear --
eliminate fraud and chargeback risk, accept transactions from any
country in the world, and increase profitability by saving on processing
fees and PCI Compliance costs.
"Credit cards were never designed
for the Internet," stated Gallippi. Using a credit card over the
internet is a situation known as card-not-present. "It was
never intended when credit cards were designed, and when we try to use
them this way it carries higher processing fees and substantially higher
risk. Payment fraud represents nearly 1% of our GDP [$100 billion] in
the United States." Shockingly, the large majority of that is a direct hit to the retailers.
So far, BitPay's notable competition in the space is Denmark-based WalletBit and Colorado-based Paysius. Also, the proof-of-concept AcceptBit solution takes things in a different direction altogether with a trust-free payment processor.
BitPay is the worldwide leader now with payment plugins for the most
common eCommerce shopping carts and multilingual support in over eight
languages, they will have to continue innovating with superior features
and expanded settlement currency options.
majority of BitPay merchants settle in U.S. dollars because the company
does not yet offer direct settlement into other currencies. Furthermore,
as almost all merchants start out converting 100% of their Bitcoin
proceeds into U.S. dollars, the company acknowledged that the trend is
heading towards 50% or less as merchants increasingly decide to maintain
proprietary Bitcoin balances.
While that may be good for the
future of bitcoin, it alters the business model for payment processors
like BitPay because they are forced to rely more on the Bitcoin-only
processing spread which is justified by customer support and
user-friendly plugins. Also, they risk being seen as just an unnecessary
In a bitcoin-only world for selling and buying
without conversion to national fiat currencies, the line between
processors and wallets becomes blurred. If the bitcoin payment
processing industry is indeed headed towards sophisticated, feature-rich
deterministic wallets and built-in risk management functionality, the leading processor should have a great advantage in steering the transition.