#Asia Bitcoin startup BitX rings in funding from Venturra Capital

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Bitcoins

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Singapore-based bitcoin startup BitX has raised a round of funding from Venturra Capital, it announced today.

BitX previously raised US$4 million for its series A round in July. That round was led by South African media conglomerate Naspers and joined by investors like the Digital Currency Group, a bitcoin-focused investor founded by cryptocurrency stalwart Barry Silbert.

The amount is undisclosed at the moment. “It’s a substantial amount and what we believe to be the first substantial investment from a Southeast Asian VC into a bitcoin company,” Marcus Swanepoel, CEO and co-founder of BitX, tells Tech in Asia. He does share that Naspers is still the startup’s largest institutional investor.

The funding will allow BitX to speed up a number of activities it started with its series A funding. These include recruitment, product development, and entering new markets. “We’ve seen some really strong growth over the past three months so having additional cash to help drive these initiatives and ultimately result in an even better customer experience is very useful,” Marcus says. He confirms that the funding is 100 percent available to the company.

See: Meet BitX, perhaps the slickest and easiest-to-use mobile Bitcoin wallet yet
Venturra, a US$150 million fund for businesses in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, debuted a few months ago and has since announced a number of investments like Indonesian beauty ecommerce site Sociolla and Malaysian services startup Kaodim. Marcus says the VC is an important partner for BitX for its plans, especially when it comes to building ecosystems. “This is where their relationships and access to companies that can help us enable these ecosystems is key,” he says. Additionally, the VC has valuable expertise in helping BitX localize its services for Indonesia, a market it entered in early 2015.

“BitX has an exceptional team that combines deep technical expertise and commercial acumen. They have proven they can build innovative products and strong traction in a rapidly emerging industry,” Stefan Jung, co-founder and managing partner at Venturra Capital, says in a statement.

BitX website

Going mainstream

BitX’s services include a bitcoin ewallet and business payment solutions. Users of its iOS and Android apps can store, send, and receive bitcoin using their phone without having to pay any fees. The company aims to be at the forefront of bitcoin adoption and usage. Marcus says that BitX reduces the friction of accessing bitcoin and moving it around, and focuses on the customer experience. This can include hiding the nuts and bolts of the sometimes complicated cryptocurrency, so the user reaps the benefits without dealing with the hassle.

The startup also seeks to familiarize its customers with bitcoin use cases, adding more places where people can use it in a given market. The key, Marcus explains, is to help build trust in the technology, which can then encourage adoption and lower costs – allowing, in turn, the space and the company to grow.

See: Blockchain tech can eradicate corruption in Asia
Startups working with bitcoin in Southeast Asia include Coins.ph in the Philippines and Bitcoin.co.id in Indonesia. US bitcoin exchange and wallet startup Coinbase also announced its expansion into Singapore in September.

Fintech has drawn the attention of most major financial institutions, now interested in bringing previously obscure technologies like bitcoin into the mainstream. Banks like UBS and HSBC seek to harness the blockchain, the tech enabling applications like bitcoin. But Marcus thinks it’s a mistake to ignore bitcoin itself, and thinks startups like BitX have a major part to play here with their expertise and knowledge.

“Given our experience working closely with large financial institutions on various bitcoin and blockchain initiatives since 2013, we’ve realized that the use case for ‘blockchain’ is very, very limited, and that these institutions are potentially making a very big mistake in completely ignoring bitcoin. We are capitalizing on that mistake as we speak,” he says. “We believe the banks of the future will look very different from how they look today, and we are building the foundations for this new future of finance, at record speed and scale.”

This post Bitcoin startup BitX rings in funding from Venturra Capital appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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