Notwithstanding the uncertainty surrounding the future of Bitcoins, the digital currency, particularly in the wake of Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) December 2013 public advisory over risks involved in dealing with virtual currencies, Unocoin, a Bitcoin start-up from Karnataka, has received $250,000 investment from an overseas venture capitalist.
Unocoin, with offices in Bangalore and Tumkur, has been providing Bitcoin trading, storage and merchant processing to the public since December 2013.
The $250,000 investment from SecondMarket founder Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Opportunity Corp has been described by Unocoin’s Managing Director Sathvik Vishwanath as ‘largest known to date in India's Bitcoin space’.
“A good part of the investment will be spent on scaling up of Unocoin and its marketing efforts while another part will be used towards regulatory compliance and security expenditures”, he added.
The overseas investment was fully realised about two weeks ago, said Mr. Sathvik. “We have received a sum equivalent to $250,000 in Indian rupees”, he told The Hindu in response to a question. Unocoin has also announced that it will be stopping the transaction fee of 3 per cent it had been levying so far.
“There will be no transaction fee for using our services from today”, he said.
In a statement released by Unocoin, Mr. Barry Silbert has been quoted as saying “I am thrilled for Bitcoin Opportunity Corp to make its first investment in India’s fast growing Bitcoin ecosystem”.
Meanwhile, Unocoin's Head of Global Business Development Vikram Nikkam said the company was focussed on helping small and medium businesses and merchants accept Bitcoin for their products and services.
Also, with a large number of people of Indian descent and nationality working abroad, Unocoin is also eyeing the global remittances to India, which, it said, totalled over $70 billion in 2013.
It may be mentioned here that the RBI had come out with a public advisory in December last year cautioning the public over the financial and legal risks involved in trading with virtual currencies following a sudden rise in the value of Bitcoins across the globe and India.
However, the value of each Bitcoin, which continues to be traded, stood at a modest $530 or Rs.32,000 at present after having reached dizzying heights of $1,200 in December last year.
Bitcoins are generated through a complex computer software system through a process called as ‘mining’ and can be transacted over the Internet.