Virtual currency getting real world attention

The virtual currency known as the bitcoin is attracting the attention of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the payments community as an alternate payment system, even as the value and security of bitcoins remain in question.

On March 6, 2013, BitPay, a processor of bitcoin payments, integrated its service with’s Fulfillment-by-Amazon (FBA) web service. BitPay called the integration the first move into large-scale e-commerce for “companies wishing to accept payments over the bitcoin peer-to-peer payment network.”

On April 11, 2013, OpenCoin Inc., a San Francisco-based company, said it closed funding for development of its Ripple protocol, a payment system designed to allow people to exchange any amount of money in any currency, including bitcoins.

“Our world has moved into a digital era, and it is time that we embrace a digital currency that can accommodate today’s global commerce needs while laying the groundwork for future evolution,” said OpenCoin Chief Technology Officer Jed McCaleb. Earlier in the month OpenCoin acquired simplehoney Inc., a company known for creating “targeted vertical applications for travel and shopping.”

Joyce Kim, co-founder of Simple Honey Inc., said, “We believe that the world economy is on the cusp of a major evolution, and we want to make it easy for anyone, anywhere to be a part of that change through Ripple.”

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