Kleiner Perkins is backing its first bitcoin startup

One of Silicon Valley’s premiere venture capital firms is making a bet that bitcoin will make it easier for businesses to move money around the world.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers was part of $12.5 million investment in Align Commerce, a San Francisco-based startup that uses bitcoin to enable cross-border money transfers. (KPCB is a well-known technology investor that has made notable investments in companies such as AOL, Google, and Amazon.com.) This is KPCB’s first investment in the bitcoin world, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The investment highlights growing interest in using bitcoin—and the blockchain technology behind the well-known digital currency—to revamp the way people send money between countries. As the system stands, moving money across borders is expensive, time consuming, and subject to regulatory costs. By incorporating blockchain and bitcoin, new entrants are betting they can make the process cheaper and faster, opening up a profitable niche of their own.

Companies big and small have been increasingly interested in the market. American Express made an investment in Abra, another cross-border blockchain based transfer service, last month. It was American Express’ first investment in the bitcoin world. Bank of America filed a related patent recently for technology that would allow it to use bitcoin for transferring funds between countries.

Align Commerce focuses on business customers, which the company says historically have paid hefty fees for global bank transfers. The strategy stands out from many of the bitcoin startups focused on retail consumers rather than businesses.

“Existing systems have seen little innovation in the face of game-changing new technologies, and the entire experience is overdue for a radically different approach,” said Marwan Forzley, chief executive of Align Commerce, in a prepared statement.

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